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PSYC FPX4310 Assessment 2 Theories and Ethics

Theories and Ethics

For my assigned assessment, I am interested in exploring the neurobiological aspects of MDMA (ecstasy) abuse. Through an analysis of peer-reviewed articles from multiple sources, I aim to gain diverse perspectives on the biological psychology of this subject.

The misuse of MDMA is a significant area of research, given its growing usage and potential negative effects. MDMA is a psychoactive substance, also referred to as 3,4 methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, that is frequently used for recreational purposes to induce euphoria and enhance social interactions. Despite this, its intricate pharmacology has led to further examination for potential therapeutic benefits such as managing anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

PSYC FPX4310 Assessment 2 Theories and Ethics

Theories Used in Articles

The theory used in the article “MDMA and PTSD treatment: “PTSD: The concept of “novel pathophysiology to innovative therapeutics” suggests that MDMA, when utilized under specific supervision and paired with specialized psychotherapy, may serve as a beneficial additional treatment option for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The author’s opinion is based on past research and clinical trials in neuroscience and medicine, as well as their personal observations and involvement in administering the substance in a clinical environment.

The RDS theory, or the “addiction-as-a-disease” model, suggests that addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain disease characterized by changes in the brain’s reward and motivational systems (Blum et al., 2021). This theory can be applied to the neurobiology of MDMA abuse.

The serotonin depletion hypothesis, which suggests that MDMA use leads to a depletion of serotonin levels in the brain, may have cognitive consequences. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating mood and cognitive processes such as attention and memory. Therefore, the cognitive impairments seen in MDMA users, such as deficits in working memory and attention, may be related to serotonin depletion caused by the drug.

How Theories are Applied to a Topic and Research Findings

According to Sessa (2017), the administration of MDMA in a clinical environment may not pose the same hazards as its recreational usage, and there have been minimal concerns about its neurotoxicity in such settings. Nevertheless, the article recognizes that the research results could be constrained by the limited sample size, and additional studies are necessary to verify the findings. 

The hypothesis put forth is that, when paired with specialized psychotherapy in a controlled and monitored environment, MDMA can function as an effective supplementary treatment for PTSD. In the context of the neurobiology of ecstasy (MDMA) abuse, this theory could be applied to research the potential adverse effects of recreational MDMA use on the brain and how these effects compare to the potential therapeutic benefits of using MDMA in a clinical setting for the treatment of PTSD.

The article presents various research investigations that explored the utilization of MDMA for treating PTSD, which involve both neurophysiological studies in phase one and clinical studies in phase two. These studies imply that MDMA can help mitigate the symptoms of PTSD. However, the article acknowledges that the limited sample sizes and the necessity for further research to validate their conclusions could restrict the impact of the results. The article also mentions that there have been few neurotoxicity concerns linked to the use of MDMA in a clinical setting, suggesting that the drug may be relatively safe for treating PTSD when used under controlled and supervised conditions. However, it is essential to note that the recreational use of MDMA may carry different risks and may not have the same therapeutic benefits as its use in a clinical setting.

The theory used in the article “MDMA interactions with pharmaceuticals and drugs of abuse” is the idea that MDMA can interact with various drugs (both pharmaceuticals and drugs of abuse) and that these interactions can increase the risk of acute and potentially life-threatening toxicity (Papaseit et al., 2020). The author of this paper supports the notion that MDMA may be a useful adjunctive therapy for PTSD, which is grounded in earlier studies, including experimental data and documented clinical cases of MDMA-drug interactions (MDMA-DIs). The article presents a literature review and synthesis of existing knowledge on MDMA-DIs instead of original primary research.

The primary focus of the research discussed in this article is on MDMA and its potential interactions with various drugs. The pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic mechanisms underlying these interactions and their potential clinical consequences are discussed. The article also acknowledges other possible variables that could impact the likelihood and severity of MDMA-DIs, such as sex, gender, race, and genetic makeup of individuals using the drugs. The authors of the article offer their expert opinions and clinical recommendations based on the available evidence.

In the context of the neurobiology of ecstasy (MDMA) abuse, this theory could be applied to research the potential adverse effects of MDMA use on the brain when taken in combination with other drugs. The article reviews the findings of previous studies examining MDMA-drug interactions (MDMA-DIs), including both experimental and documented clinical cases (Costa & Gołembiowska, 2022). These studies indicate that MDMA can interact with a range of drugs and that these interactions could result in a heightened risk of acute toxicity that could be potentially fatal. The article examines the pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic mechanisms of these interactions, as well as the potential clinical consequences. The article also acknowledges that other factors, such as sex, gender, race, and genetic makeup of the individuals using the drugs, might play a role in the likelihood and severity of MDMA-DIs. Based on the available evidence, the authors of the article provide their expert opinions and clinical recommendations. Overall, the research findings suggest that individuals who use MDMA in combination with other drugs may be at increased risk for adverse effects and should be cautious when using these drugs together.

PSYC FPX4310 Assessment 2 Theories and Ethics

The theory used in the article (Tao et al., 2017) is “Environment Influencing Serotonin Syndrome Induced by Ecstasy Abuse” is that environmental conditions (non-drug factors) can affect serotonergic extrasynaptic receptor responsivity and the severity of MDMA-induced serotonin syndrome. This theory is supported by existing studies and data on the topic, which the authors have reviewed and synthesized in their article. The study’s primary variables are the severity of serotonin syndrome (classified as mild, moderate, or severe), the levels of extracellular serotonin in the brain, the impact of environmental factors on serotonergic extrasynaptic receptor responsiveness, and the effect of MDMA on extrasynaptic receptors in the brain. Rather than conducting new primary research, the research methods employed in the article consist of a review of existing studies and data on the topic (Tao et al., 2017). The author ensured that all the reviewed articles are relevant and follow ethical and safety guidelines.

The article focuses on the effects of non-drug factors on serotonergic extrasynaptic receptor responsivity and the severity of MDMA-induced serotonin syndrome, drawing on previous studies and data.

These studies suggest that environmental conditions can affect the severity of serotonin syndrome, the responsivity of extrasynaptic receptors in the brain, and that MDMA can affect extrasynaptic receptors in the brain. The article examines the severity of the serotonin syndrome, extracellular serotonin levels in the brain, the influence of environmental conditions on serotonergic extrasynaptic receptor responsivity, and the effect of MDMA on extrasynaptic receptors in the brain as its main variables. The research is based on a review of previous studies and data rather than original research, and the author has ensured that the reviewed articles meet ethical and safety guidelines. The findings suggest that environmental conditions can affect the severity of MDMA-induced serotonin syndrome and that MDMA can influence extrasynaptic receptors in the brain.

The glutamate hypothesis, which suggests that MDMA use leads to increased levels of glutamate in the brain, may also have cognitive consequences. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is involved in cognitive processes such as learning and memory. However, excessive levels of glutamate can lead to excitotoxicity, which can damage neurons and cause cognitive impairments (Montgomery & Roberts, 2022).

Therefore, by understanding the neurobiological mechanisms underlying the effects of MDMA abuse, we can also gain insights into the cognitive consequences of the drug.

Ethical Principles in Research

The researchers seem to be following ethical standards by conducting the study under controlled and supervised conditions and providing specialized psychotherapy support while using MDMA as a supplementary treatment for PTSD. This suggests that the researchers are taking precautions to ensure the safety of their subjects and are following appropriate ethical guidelines for conducting research involving human subjects. Adherence to ethical conduct involves engaging with human subjects in research and ensuring their safety and well-being through appropriate measures, such as conducting research in a controlled and supervised environment, offering specialized psychotherapy support alongside MDMA as a supplementary treatment for PTSD, and following ethical guidelines. These measures may include obtaining informed consent, respecting privacy and confidentiality, and providing necessary support and resources to the subjects.

Ethical behaviors used by the researchers in the given article include obtaining consent from participants for all tests and analyses and ethically conducting their research (Parrott, 2013). By obtaining consent from others before involving them in any tests, experiments, or other research, we can respect their autonomy and ensure that they are aware of and agree to their participation.

The ethical behavior used by the researcher in this article includes reviewing existing studies and data and presenting an overview of the current understanding of the topic rather than conducting new primary research. This means that the researcher has yet to conduct any new experiments or collect new data but has instead relied on the work of other researchers and has analyzed and synthesized this information systematically (Tao et al., 2017). To ensure that the research is conducted ethically and safely, the researcher has also followed guidelines and reviewed only relevant articles. These behaviors can be applied in our daily lives by being respectful of the work of others, critically evaluating the sources of information we encounter, and being mindful of the ethical implications of our actions.

The authors of these articles use different theories, research methods, and variables to explore the different aspects of MDMA use and abuse. However, they all share a common concern for the safety and ethical implications of research in this area. Regarding ethical principles, researchers need to ensure that they follow the fundamental principles of research ethics, such as informed consent, confidentiality, minimizing harm, and protecting vulnerable populations (Gordon, 2020). For example, studies involving MDMA in a clinical setting need to ensure that participants understand the risks and benefits of the drug and give their informed consent to participate. Confidentiality and privacy need to be maintained to protect the participants’ identities and data. Additionally, researchers need to minimize the harm that participants may experience during the study, both physical and psychological (Gordon, 2020).

PSYC FPX4310 Assessment 2 Theories and Ethics

Ethical Behaviors in Daily Life

The importance of ethical behavior is not limited to research but extends to everyday life. It is crucial to make fair and responsible decisions, treat others with respect, and preserve our values and principles. Practicing ethical behavior involves being honest, transparent, and considerate towards others, avoiding causing harm or distress. It also requires us to take responsibility for our actions, admit our mistakes, and be transparent about our decisions. Adhering to ethical principles helps us maintain personal integrity and stay true to our beliefs and values. By implementing these principles in our daily lives, we can make better decisions, strengthen our relationships, and achieve personal fulfillment. We become more confident, and attentive, and make choices that align with our values and aspirations.


Blum, K., Bowirrat, A., Braverman, E. R., Baron, D., Cadet, J. L., Kazmi, S., Elman, I., Thanos, P. K., Badgaiyan, R. D., Downs, W. B., Bagchi, D., Llanos-Gomez, L., & Gold, M. S. (2021). Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS): A cytoarchitectural common neurobiological trait of all addictions. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(21), 11529. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182111529 

Costa, G., & Gołembiowska, K. (2022). Neurotoxicity of MDMA: Main effects and mechanisms. Experimental Neurology, 347(1), 113894. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2021.113894 

Gordon, B. G. (2020). Vulnerability in research: Basic ethical concepts and general approach to review. Ochsner Journal, 20(1), 34–38. https://doi.org/10.31486/toj.19.0079 

Montgomery, C., & Roberts, C. A. (2022). Neurological and cognitive alterations induced by MDMA in humans. Experimental Neurology, 347(1), 113888. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2021.113888 

Parrott, A. C. (2013). Human psychobiology of MDMA or “Ecstasy”: An overview of 25 years of empirical research. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 28(4), 289–307. https://doi.org/10.1002/hup.2318

Sessa, B. (2017). MDMA and PTSD treatment. Neuroscience Letters, 649, 176–180. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neulet.2016.07.004Tao,

Tao, R., Shokry, I. M., & Callanan, J. J. (2017). Environment influencing serotonin syndrome induced by ecstasy abuse. Annals of Forensic Research and Analysis, 4(1), 1039. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5931730/ 

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