The question: “Does ecstasy drain your spinal fluid?”
This question seems odd now (and even then) and resulted from a rumor provoked by the publication of print ads by the organization MAPS (Multipledisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) asking for volunteers who had taken ecstasy (MDMA)to have a spinal tap as part of a study. The purpose of the study was to check and see if experiment with rats which showed ecstasy lowered production of the neurotransmitter seretonin was also true in humans. Spinal taps were the gold standard of accuracy in regards to levels of brain serotonin.
Sharing the details of this long-ago study would require more time and space in this book than is justified. Even if I did try and explain the experiment as clearly as I could, it would still prove a bit confusing for the large majority of you who did not formally study neuroscience. The attempt by MAPs to explain exactly why they were recruiting people for spinal taps in relationship to MDMA similarly proved difficult and confusing. this difficult notion on a short poster turned out to be confusing to many people, the rumors that MDMA ingestion lead to spinal fluid leakage.
In order to address the misconceptions and resultant persistent questions at lectures, I would tell the long and complicated story which I mostly would clarity things for people.
An unexpected consequence of giving this explanation was that telling the story had a way of framing me as an expert on the subject of neuroscience in general and MDMA in particular. I had staked out my turf as a professional expert. Each time I told the story, it would again have the effect of elevating me in eyes of the audience, enabling my credentials as an authority and puffing up my ego.
However, after many of these repetitions of the story, I began to find telling it just one more time, tedious. MDMA might not cause damage to the spinal fluid but after telling the story, my back started hurting as if I had been given one of those spinal taps with an exceptionally long needle.
The entire subject of MDMA soon began loose its appeal for me, much as repeated taking the drug ends up producing a long term tolerance to its effects.
Now that you understand what I was going through in life at the time, the next section describes the dream itself.