Navigating intimacy with ecstasy: The emotional, spatial and boundaried dynamics of couples’ MDMA experiences

PhD Thesis


Anderson, K (2017). Navigating intimacy with ecstasy: The emotional, spatial and boundaried dynamics of couples’ MDMA experiences. PhD Thesis London South Bank University School of Applied Sciences
AuthorsAnderson, K
TypePhD Thesis
Abstract

MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxy-methamphetamine or ‘ecstasy’) is well-known for its
empathic and sociable effects (Bogt, Engels, Hibbel & Van Wel, 2002). Indeed, there
is a body of work that discusses the role the drug plays in social bonding (Beck &
Rosenbaum, 1998; Duff, 2008; Farrugia, 2015; Hinchliff, 2001; Solowij, Hall & Lee,
1992). However, there has been extremely limited research looking at MDMA’s
impact specifically on romantic relationships (Vervaeke & Korf, 2006). Hence, this
thesis explored couples’ experiences of intimacy on MDMA and how this intertwines
with their relationship. Semi-structured interviews with ten couples, using visual
methods (Reavey, 2011; Del Busso, 2009; Majumdar, 2011), and eight individual
written diaries (Kenten, 2010) were analysed using a thematic approach (Braun &
Clarke, 2006). A ‘bubble’ (Sloterdijk, 1999 cited in Klauser, 2010) is argued to
organically form around couples on MDMA, producing a distinct affective
atmosphere of muted fear, worry and shame and heightened feelings of safety and
love, which mediates emotional and discursive ‘practices’ of intimacy (Gabb & Fink,
2015). Movement, spaces and objects are also argued to facilitate intimacy,
producing new subjectivities which alter boundaries: between self and world; within
the self; and between self and other (Brown & Stenner, 2009). Yet beneath the
seeming ‘flow’ to MDMA experiences, couples construct clear, symbolic boundaries,
segmenting these experiences from both everyday life (Douglas, 2001), and other
people (Stenner, 2013). The research is argued to have key implications for drug
theory and practice, namely that drug use is not only an individual act (Duff, 2008)
but also relational in nature – its meaning partly determined by how it interweaves
with important relationships in people’s lives.

Year2017
PublisherLondon South Bank University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.18744/PUB.001844
Publication dates
Print01 Aug 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited23 Feb 2018
Publisher's version
License
CC BY 4.0
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/86y5v

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Related outputs

‘Never drop without your significant other, cause that way lies ruin’: The boundary work of couples who use MDMA together
Anderson, K, Reavey, P and Boden, Z (2019). ‘Never drop without your significant other, cause that way lies ruin’: The boundary work of couples who use MDMA together. International Journal of Drug Policy. 71, pp. 10-18.
An Affective (Re)balancing Act? The Liminal Possibilities for Heterosexual Partners on MDMA
Anderson, K, Reavey, P and Boden, Z (2018). An Affective (Re)balancing Act? The Liminal Possibilities for Heterosexual Partners on MDMA. in: Juvonen, T and Kolehmainen, M (ed.) Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships London Routledge. pp. 19-33