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Retinafunk, Flickr

Scientists have found that the drug ecstasy can cause people to be more trusting of others, reports New Scientist.

Why it matters: A key challenge in treating post-traumatic stress disorder with psychotherapy is fostering trust between patients and their therapists. The Medical University of South Carolina's Michael Mithoefer, who is investigating whether ecstasy can be used to relieve PTSD, cautioned there are still open questions about how the drug works but told New Scientist, "it may help people trust their therapist more and prevent them from being overwhelmed by their traumatic memories during therapy."

Researchers at King's College London gave 20 men ecstasy and scanned their brains while they played a classic social science game called the Prisoner's Dilemma. (According to the game, it is never wise to cooperate with your opponent yet people do.) Players cooperated twice as often after they took ecstasy compared to when they were given a placebo but only if their opponent (a computer) also cooperated, building the person's trust that they weren't going to be betrayed. If the computer did betray them, the players were less cooperative -- ecstasy or not.

The concern: The use of ecstasy is being limited to the first few sessions of therapy in trials but some psychologists worry even that could lead to unintended abuse. "It sends the message that this drug will help you solve your problems, when often it just creates problems," psychologist Andrew Parrott told the New York Times last fall. "This is a messy drug we know can do damage."

Go deeper

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Health: CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use" — Death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased testing can reduce transmission.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Cities: Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.
2 hours ago - Health

Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate

Golden Gate Park. Photo: Justin Sullivan via Getty

Counties around the San Francisco Bay Area will adopt California’s new regional stay-at-home order amid surges in cases and ICU hospitalizations, health officials said Friday.

The big picture: California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a three-week stay-at-home order on Thursday that would go into effect in regions with less than 15% ICU capacity. Despite the Bay Area’s current 25.3% ICU capacity, health officials from Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco and the city of Berkeley are moving ahead with a shelter-in-place mandate in the hopes of reducing risk.