Dr Leo Zeff

picture of the late Dr Leo Zeff

Oakland psychologist and psychotherapist Leo Zeff, "the Johnny Appleseed of MDMA", pioneered a variety of drug-assisted therapies with his patients. Zeff was no ordinary therapist. He once wrote about dancing with a Torah while tripping on LSD.

        Dr Zeff was introduced to MDMA by Dr Alexander Shulgin. Zeff's response was wildly enthusiastic. He postponed his retirement and began to proselytise.

         Dr Zeff introduced MDMA to hundreds of his fellow therapists across the USA. Zeff christened MDMA "Adam". The name was chosen because the drug typically strips away a lifetime of anxieties, self-protective inhibitions and ego defence-mechanisms - returning the user to an allegedly primordial state of innocence.

        This description of MDMA's effects may reflect an overly romanticised view our evolutionary past. Life for our ancestors on the African savannah was often nasty, brutish and short - and certainly no Garden of Eden. Our ugly palette of Darwinian emotions expresses this nastiness all too well. But the dubious historical accuracy of the allusion doesn't cast doubt on the therapeutic potential of the insight-and-empathy drugs of the future. The challenge is to design agents that are safe and sustainable.

         For alas MDMA itself is not a miracle-cure for damaged minds. Taking MDMA enables the user fleetingly to glimpse something akin to true mental health. But with terrible irony, overuse of the drug can undermine what semblance of health its recreational users had to begin with. Darwinian life is extraordinarily cruel.


Professor X
Charles Grob
Claudio Naranjo
Ecstasy in the USA
Ecstasy and Honesty
Zeff Memorial Library
Ecstasy and the Brain
MDMA/ecstasy: review
Alexander Shulgin on MDMA
MDMA: Utopian Pharmacology
MDMA in a Therapeutic Context
Buying Research Chemicals Online