Somewhere on America's East Coast, a young man takes MDMA in what looks like a divorced stockbroker's studio apartment while an older married couple watches.
Via Dr. Michael Mithoefer
The flowers should be a bottle of bourbon, but close.
Contrary to that deeply misleading opening sentence, nothing the least bit kinky or illegal is going on here. The couple is Dr. Michael Mithoefer and his wife, Ann Mithoefer, a psychiatric nurse. The young man is a veteran of one of America's most recent wars, seeking treatment for his PTSD. Over the last decade-and-change, Michael and Ann have treated dozens of men and women this way -- combat vets, firefighters, survivors of sexual assault. One of their patients, Nicholas, told us how his therapy went:
"So, once a week you go in, no drug, and talk with them. Getting to know each other, what to go through ... and at the end of the month, you have an all-day session. You're given a drug in the morning. They give you a half-dose midway through; it keeps you going all day. And then you stay the night."
Which, frankly, sounds a little quiet for a full day of rave drugs.
The Mithoefers are there in their capacity as psychotherapists. Nicholas describes their role as creating a "comfortable space" to act as a "vessel of healing." He says, "It's just talking for hours. ... There are times when I'd get my mind in knots and they'd say, 'Hey remember to use your breath,' or, 'Trust the medicine,' or, 'Do you think this would be a good time to lay down and go within?'" At no point did either of the Mithoefers wave a glow stick in Nicholas' face or try to sell him hits off a nitrous balloon for $5.
Instead they help find the nitrous balloon within.