Clinical features

Being structurally related to both amphetamine and mescaline,(4) MDMA possesses both stimulant and hallucinogenic properties and is said to 'evoke an easily controlled altered state of consciousness with emotional and sensual overtones'(5) which allows it to be discriminated from other related substances. Some have suggested a new term for this group of drugs 'empathogens' and suggest that the substance's appeal rests in its 'dramatic and consistent ability to induce in the user a profound feeling of attachment and connection'(6) which would be in keeping with its popularity as a social drug within the club scene. It was also these qualities that led to the enthusiasm of a small number of physicians and therapists in the United States who held that it could enhance the therapeutic process. (7) Indeed, it is reported that the Los Angeles dealer who coined the street name 'ecstasy' for MDMA would have preferred the name 'empathy' but he did not feel that his clients would know what it meant.

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