MDMA, commonly known by its more popular and more easily-pronounced names, Ecstasy (or “E”) or Molly, has had an odd little history. It’s an odd chemical, so that seems fair.

It got its name of Ecstasy because it manages to produce the effects of both a hallucinogenic and a stimulant, resulting in increased energy and sociability, the time and space distortions beloved of hallucinogenic fans, and a feeling of emotional warmth. Empathy and euphoria are perhaps its greatest hallmarks, a result of those effects in combination. It also increases all sensations except (arguably) pain. Something that decreases fear and ego, and increases acceptance, peacefulness, feelings of belonging, forgiveness, and so on – well, its popularity is hardly a surprise.

There are negative effects as well, of course, most of which happen when it’s taken too often or in too high a dose. The hangovers, for example, are legendary. These do not contribute to its popularity, also not much of a surprise.

The oddest thing about the drug is that loss of sensitivity to it, and thus enjoyment of it, happens not as a result of frequency but of total lifetime usage. Some people “lose the magic” after only 10 uses; others can use it up to 50 times; still others appear to have no limit at all. This may or may not be related to a given user’s sensitivity to dosage, which also varies wildly and is apparently hard to correlate to longevity of usage.

Sexually, it has a variety of effects. Too much will severely dampen ability to orgasm or even to have sex. A more usual dose has the inhibition-lowering effects one will have guessed from the above descriptions.

More interestingly for the researcher into actual (non-psychological) aphrodisiacs, it appears that MDMA has an enormously positive effect on women’s sensation and libido, and may for men as well. Some men report complete erectile dysfunction while on it, though that may be a dosage issue. The trouble with illegal substances is scientific incuriosity.

Illegal? Yeah. Expensive, too. Both depend on where you are, of course. Each pill costs about $0.25 to make in Europe, and sells for $20-$40 in America, where it is a Schedule 1 illegal item.

Stranger, here you will do well to tarry; here our highest good is pleasure.