According to a report by the BBC, a white supremacist named Brendan from the United States is said to have relinquished his “extremist views” after participating in a clinical study involving MDMA.
In February 2020, Brendan joined a clinical trial led by Harriet de Wit, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the University of Chicago. The double-blind study aimed to explore how MDMA affects the perception of social touch among healthy volunteers.
Upon completing the trial, Brendan submitted a form to the researchers, emphasizing, “This experience has helped me resolve a debilitating personal issue. Google my name. I now know what I need to do.”
The researchers, including Rachel Nuwer, who wrote about the study and Brendan’s transformed perspective, conducted a Google search using Brendan’s name. They were astonished to discover that he had previously been a leader of Identity Evropa, a notorious white nationalist group known as the American Identity Movement at the time.
Brendan had also participated in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017 and lost his job due to his extremist beliefs just two months before the clinical trial began.
When confronted about his change of heart, Brendan expressed, “Love is the most important thing. Nothing matters without love.”
“It’s a sentiment commonly associated with this drug, that it makes people feel love,” commented lead researcher Harriet de Wit in her interview with the BBC. “To think that a drug could alter someone’s beliefs and thoughts without any preconceived expectations—it’s mind-boggling.”
However, despite Brendan’s ideological shift, Nuwer points out that this case is exceptional and likely not a universal solution—MDMA cannot simply “solve” extremist views.
Nuwer further explained that Brendan continued to face challenges in establishing connections even after the trial. As a result, he sought therapy, hired a diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant, and began practicing meditation.
“I started seeing my relationships with others not as distinct boundaries with separate entities, but rather as a sense of oneness,” Brendan shared. “I realized I had been fixated on trivial matters that truly don’t hold significance, and I had missed out on the joy that life has to offer.”
Written by: Artificial Intelligence Technology