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PSYC FPX 4310 Assessment 2 Theories and Ethics


Capella University

PSYC FPX 4310 Biological Psychology

Prof. Name


Theories and Ethics


This assessment delves into the neurobiological dimensions of MDMA (ecstasy) misuse, examining various peer-reviewed articles to understand the biological psychology associated with this substance.

MDMA Misuse and Research Significance 

MDMA abuse is a critical research area due to its increasing usage and potential negative effects. Known as 3,4 methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, MDMA is a psychoactive drug often used recreationally to induce euphoria and enhance social interactions. Its complex pharmacological profile has sparked interest in its potential therapeutic applications, such as treating anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Theoretical Frameworks in MDMA Research

MDMA and PTSD Treatment 

In the article “MDMA and PTSD treatment: From novel pathophysiology to innovative therapeutics,” the use of MDMA in conjunction with specialized psychotherapy within a controlled setting is explored as a promising adjunctive treatment for PTSD. This approach, grounded in neuroscience, medicine, prior research, and clinical trials, is advocated based on empirical evidence and clinical experience (Sessa, 2017).

Addiction-as-a-Disease Model 

The “addiction-as-a-disease” model, also known as the Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS) theory, views addiction as a chronic brain disorder characterized by changes in reward and motivational systems (Blum et al., 2021). This framework is relevant for understanding the neurobiology of MDMA abuse.

Serotonin Depletion Hypothesis 

The serotonin depletion hypothesis suggests that MDMA use leads to reduced serotonin levels in the brain, potentially causing cognitive impairments such as deficits in working memory and attention (Montgomery & Roberts, 2022).

Application of Theories and Research Findings

Clinical Use of MDMA 

Research indicates that administering MDMA in a clinical context, combined with specialized psychotherapy, presents fewer neurotoxic risks compared to recreational use (Sessa, 2017). However, due to limitations like small sample sizes, further studies are needed to validate these findings.

Drug Interactions and Toxicity 

Examining MDMA’s interactions with other pharmaceuticals and drugs highlights the risks of acute toxicity, emphasizing the need for informed clinical decision-making (Papaseit et al., 2020). Understanding these interactions is crucial for assessing the safety and effectiveness of MDMA as an adjunctive therapy for PTSD.

Environmental Influences Environmental factors play a role in the severity of MDMA-induced serotonin syndrome, underscoring the complex nature of its causes (Tao et al., 2017).

Ethical Principles in Research

Research Ethics 

Researchers adhere to ethical standards by conducting studies under controlled conditions, ensuring participant safety, and providing appropriate psychotherapeutic support (Sessa, 2017). These measures align with ethical guidelines and protect the well-being of research subjects.

Ethical Conduct in Daily Life 

Ethical behavior extends beyond research and includes everyday life, emphasizing fairness, respect, honesty, and responsibility (Sessa, 2017). Upholding ethical principles promotes personal integrity, strengthens relationships, and aids in informed decision-making.


Blum, K., Thanos, P. K., & Badgaiyan, R. D. (2021). Addiction as a Reward Deficiency Syndrome (RDS): An integrative model. Theoretical Biology & Medical Modelling, 18(1), 1-27.

Montgomery, C., & Roberts, C. A. (2022). Neurological and cognitive alterations induced by MDMA in humans. Experimental Neurology, 347(1), 113888.

Papaseit, E., Pérez-Mañá, C., Torrens, M., & Farré, M. (2020). MDMA: From clinical trials to recreational use. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 23(5), 341-352.

Sessa, B. (2017). MDMA and PTSD treatment: From novel pathophysiology to innovative therapeutics. Neuroscience Letters, 649, 176-180.

PSYC FPX 4310 Assessment 2 Theories and Ethics

Tao, R., Shokry, I. M., & Callanan, J. J. (2017). Environment influencing serotonin syndrome induced by ecstasy abuse. Annals of Forensic Research and Analysis, 4(1), 1039.


Addiction-as-a-Disease ModelViews addiction as a chronic brain disorder with changes in reward and motivational systemsHelps understand the neurobiology of MDMA abuse (Blum et al., 2021)
Serotonin Depletion HypothesisSuggests MDMA reduces serotonin levels in the brain, causing cognitive impairmentsExplains cognitive deficits in MDMA users (Montgomery & Roberts, 2022)

PSYC FPX 4310 Assessment 2 Theories and Ethics

Research Focus
Key Findings
Clinical Use of MDMAMinimal neurotoxic risks when combined with psychotherapySmall sample sizes, need for further studies (Sessa, 2017)
Drug Interactions and ToxicityHighlights risks of acute toxicity with other drugsEmphasizes informed clinical decision-making (Papaseit et al., 2020)
Environmental InfluencesEnvironmental factors affect serotonin syndrome severityHighlights complex etiology (Tao et al., 2017)

Ethical Considerations in Research and Daily Life

Research EthicsConducting studies under controlled conditions, ensuring participant safety, providing psychotherapeutic support (Sessa, 2017)
Ethical Conduct in Daily LifeEmphasizing fairness, respect, honesty, and responsibility (Sessa, 2017)

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