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The terms entactogen and empathogen are used to describe a class of psychoactive substances that produce distinctive emotional and social effects similar to those of MDMA.

The term "empathogen" was coined in 1983 by Ralph Metzner to denote chemical agents capable of inducing feelings of empathy. "Entactogen" was coined by David E. Nichols as an alternative to "empathogen," attempting to avoid the potential for an improper association of the latter with negative connotations related to the Greek root "pathos" (suffering).

Nichols also thought the word was limiting and did not cover other therapeutic uses for the drugs that go beyond instilling feelings of empathy. The word "entactogen" is derived from the roots "en" (within), "tactus" (touch) and "gen" (produce). Neither term is dominant in usage and, despite their difference in connotation, they are essentially interchangeable as they refer to the same substances.


"Therapists used entactogens such as MDMA in their practice before it was criminalized in 1985. Since that time, much effort has taken place to conduct government-approved scientific research into MDMA's therapeutic potential, which has recently been demonstrated in placebo-controlled studies of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder."
—Ralph Metzner, Ph.D., MAPS

Subjective effects

The effects listed below are based upon the subjective effects index and personal experiences of PsychonautWiki contributors. The listed effects should be taken with a grain of salt and will rarely (if ever) occur all at once, but heavier doses will increase the chances and are more likely to induce a full range of effects. Likewise, adverse effects become much more likely on higher doses and may include injury or death. These effects are listed and defined in their own dedicated article below:

Alongside of these, a variety of secondary effects are often present. These generally include (but are not limited to):


The chemicals below have varying degrees of entactogenic effects. Some of the chemicals have a minimal entactogenic effect while others may have a strong entactogenic effect. Many of these substances possess other effects including stimulant effects and psychedelic effects.

See also


  • Nichols, D.E., Hoffman, A.J., Oberlender, R.A., Jacob P 3rd & Shulgin A.T. Derivatives of 1-(1,3-benzodioxol-5-yl)-2-butanamine: representatives of a novel therapeutic class 1986 J Med Chem 29 2009-15
  • Nichols, D.E. Differences between the mechanism of action of MDMA, MBDB, and the classic hallucinogens. Identification of a new therapeutic class: entactogens 1986 J Psychoactive Drugs 18 305-13