After taking just one MDMA pill, the leader of a hate group for white people was completely transformed.


Brendan, a former white supremacist leader in Chicago, said after taking 110 milligrams of MDMA in a trial, he began to question his choices.  He decided to change his ways and denounce the movement

A white supremacist has seen his views radically changed after taking a single pill of the drug MDMA.

Brendan – whose full name is withheld – was one of the leaders of the white nationalist group US Midwest faction of the American Identity Movement, a group that openly calls for a return to “white rule” in the country.

He participated in a February 2020 trial from the University of Chicago in which he was given 110 milligrams of MDMA. The researchers wanted to see if the drug increased the sociability of social touch.

Brendan wrote a cryptic message in his exit questionnaire that read, ?This experience has helped me resolve a debilitating personal issue. Google my name. I now know what to do.’

After looking up Brendan’s full name online, Dr. Harriet de Wit, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Chicago who led the trial, came to look up Brendan’s name, learning that Brendan had been a leader just months before of the Midwest Division of the American Identity Movement. and had attended the protest in Charlottesville that ended in one death and several injuries.

Brendan, a former white supremacist leader in Chicago, said after taking 110 milligrams of MDMA in a trial, he began to question his choices. He decided to change his ways and denounce the movement

MDMA is a party drug usually distributed in tablet form containing between 50 and 150 milligrams.  It is a synthetic chemical that is both stimulant and psychedelic

MDMA is a party drug usually distributed in tablet form containing between 50 and 150 milligrams. It is a synthetic chemical that is both stimulant and psychedelic

The group was known as Identity Evropa at the time, but was rebranded to the American Identity Movement in 2019.

Brendan had been exposed two months earlier by Chicago Antifascist Action activists and lost his job. After taking MDMA in De Wit’s experiment, he told research assistant Mike Bremmer to do love.

“Love is the most important thing,” Brendan said. “Nothing matters without love.”

?It’s what everyone says about this damn drug, that it makes people feel love. To think that a drug can change someone’s beliefs and thoughts without any expectation ? it’s mind-boggling,” Dr. the White BBC.

MDMA, also known as ecstasy or molly, is a synthetically made party drug known for keeping people awake.

It is both stimulant and psychedelic, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This causes increased energy, distortions in time and perception, and greater enjoyment of tactile experiences.

Dr.  Harriet de Wit conducted a series of experiments to test whether MDMA increases the pleasant sensations of touch

Dr. Harriet de Wit conducted a series of experiments to test whether MDMA increases the pleasant sensations of touch

When taken as a party drug, it is rarely used alone. Users often mix it with other substances, such as alcohol, marijuana or LSD.

Drug activists warn that the biggest risk of taking MDMA is that many users don’t know what’s in the substance they’re taking.

It may contain other drugs, such as PMA, which can be fatal at lower doses than MDMA itself.

Off the street, the drug has been studied for various medicinal effects. Recent research suggests it can help people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSF) who experience flashbacks and struggle to maintain their work and personal lives.

MDMA is thought to rewire connections in the brain, dampening the parts that cause anxiety. In a case study by Brendan to be published in 2021 in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the researchers wrote: if ‘extremist views [are] fueled by fear, anger and cognitive biases, could these be targets of pharmacological intervention?’

In Brendan’s case, he quickly rose through the ranks of Identity Evropa, first coordinator for Illinois and then for the entire Midwest. He met with other groups around the world to help make the movement more mainstream.

However, when his identity became public and he was fired, his trajectory changed. He saw a Facebook ad for a drug trial at the University of Chicago in 2020 and joined to earn some extra money.

On one of the visits, Brendan was given a pill. He didn’t know it was 110 milligrams of MDMA.

The typical pill someone takes on the street is somewhere between 50 and 150 milligrams, according to the DEA. It usually comes in tablet form.

He was filled with regret at the time – not for his views, but for the indiscretions that exposed him. About 30 minutes after taking the pill, he began to question why he thought it was okay to risk his job and relationships the way he did.

He had an MRI done. Mr. Bremmer tickled his arm with a brush and asked him to indicate how pleasant it felt. “I found it made me happier – the experience of the touch,” Brendan told the BBC. “I started appreciating it more and more.”

He experienced connection, which made him realize that connections with others were all that mattered.

“These are things you can’t really put into words, but it was so profound,” he said. “I didn’t think of my relationships with other people as clear boundaries with different entities, but more as we-are-all-one.”

?I realized that I was fixated on things that don’t really matter, and are just so messed up, and I was totally missing the point. I hadn’t enjoyed the joy life has to offer.’

Brendan reached out to the activist who had berated him and said he wanted to take steps to change. He enrolled in therapy, started meditation, read educational books, and sought support from a diversity, equality, and inclusion consultant.

“There are certainly times when I have racist or anti-Semitic thoughts,” he said. “But now I can recognize that those kinds of thinking patterns hurt me more than anyone else.”

A change like Brendan’s is rare, but a growing body of research suggests that MDMA and similar drugs may have lasting psychological effects.

a study published last week of researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that MDMA and other psychedelics, such as LSD and ketamine, reopen a critical period in the brain.

Critical periods are windows of suggestibility that typically occur in childhood when the brain is more malleable and ready to learn new things.

But the study notes that this must be done at the right time. Timing is probably what caused Brendan’s big shift.

“It helped me see things in a different way than no amount of therapy or anti-racist literature ever would have,” he said. “I really think it was a breakthrough experience.”

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