Doblin said he's working with the Defense Department to develop a protocol involving active-duty troops, and said he would gladly give up his status as the prime backer of MDMA research: "If there are other people who have a better idea, or want to try it with cognitive behavioral therapy, or whatever -- if there are other people trying to fund MDMA research, we think that would be great." With a laugh, he added, "We could even provide them with free MDMA. We have a lot more than we need."
Hope no longer has flashbacks or night terrors, and she no longer jumps when the phone rings. After finishing with Mithoefer, she decided to abandon her quiet life on Maui and moved to Los Angeles.
In 2008 she felt strong enough to have a second child. "That's another part of the gift of MDMA," she said recently. "Before those sessions, I just couldn't get it together, to expand my family the way I wanted to."
Crowds no longer faze her. In fact, she spent two months this fall as a full-time climate-change protester, doing street theater in a polar bear hat in front of hostile crowds at presidential debates and similar events.
"It gets pretty intense," she said. "It's something I couldn't have done, before the treatment."
Grateful as she is for Mithoefer's study, she feels as strongly as ever about avoiding recreational drug use. "I have a very, very serious respect for that medicine. You really don't want anybody to do this without professional supervision. It could open portals, in a way that could really damage you."
Chatting in his office, where books about shamanism sit side by side with standard psychology texts, Mithoefer remained cautious.
"I think at this point, what we know is that MDMA can be administered safely to people with PTSD, to the right people in the right setting with the right screening. It shows very encouraging signs of being effective, you know, but the numbers are too small to say we can definitively prove that."