Monika Wieliczko, PhD (Cand.)
Psychological effects of MDMA: the function of the set and setting
This research investigated the function of the set and setting introduced by Zinberg’s ‘Interaction Model’ (1994) and their role in shaping the psychological effects of 3,4-methylenedioxmethamphetamine (MDMA), as well as their function in reducing the risk of the drug abuse. The model (Zinberg, 1994) implies that the content of a drug-induced experience is a function of the pharmacological properties of a drug, e.g. its dose and presence of adulterants; the set defined as the user’s characteristics e.g. one’s intention and personality. Finally, the setting defined as a physical and social context in which intoxication occurs. An online survey was distributed among adult MDMA polydrug users (n = 158) and MDMA-naïve participants (alcohol and marihuana users, n = 138). Data was collected between March and September 2015. Participants answered questions regarding their pattern of drug use, the set and setting of MDMA use, the subjective effects of MDMA, and completed measures of psychological insight, emotional intelligence, and personality traits. A preliminary analysis showed that MDMA users displayed higher levels of emotional intelligence, insight and self-reflection than non-MDMA users. Similarly, MDMA polydrug users presented higher levels of Openness to new Experiences and Extraversion, and lower levels of Neuroticism and Conscientiousness, in comparison to the control group. A further analysis exploring the role of the set and setting in altering the drug experience will be presented. The results support the notion of the therapeutic effects of MDMA and it’s potential for altering emotional experiences.
Monika is a clinical psychologist in training researching psychological effects of MDMA as part of her doctoral training at the Canterbury Christ Church University, UK. She works for the National Health Service providing psychological therapy for adults and children suffering from mental health problems. Monika’s interests in treatment of psychological trauma and personality disorders, and the use of psychedelic compounds to facilitate the therapeutic process led her to develop her research interests in MDMA.