Truth Serum

Todd I. Stark stark at dwovax.enet.dec.com
Mon May 24 15:56:43 EST 1993

>gatebbs at ariel.ucs.unimelb.EDU.AU (John Merakovsky) writes:
>: I was wondering whether anyone knows the truth about truth serum? 
>: Sodium pentothal I think. Does it work, and if so how? 

>Well, it can remove your inhibitions against talking. The problem
>is, you can be led to say just about anything desired.

I think that's a pretty accurate summary.  I'll try to provide a few details
as well.

I believe it is a barbiturate (Thiopental Sodium), making the 
neural membrane more permeable to chloride ions, resulting in
general inhibition, starting with the cortex and working down to the
lower brain regions with increasing biological effect.  

I think the effects are something like the following :

At an appropriate dosage, you get just enough neural inhibitory effect
to create an alcohol-like disinhibition of normal behavioral restraints.

At a higher dosage, but not high enough to cause unconsciousness, you may 
create a stupor and inhibit independent thought and action to a greater 
extent.  The result is that you become more suggestible and less
willful.  A context for either recalling memories or constructing
new ones may then be created by an operator.  The actual verity of 
the testimony achieved in this manner will be impossible to determine
from the session alone, however.  

I think there is some overlap with the old practice of using ethyl ether to
aid in obtaining psychodynamic 'catharsis,' which may or may not
relate to actual events in the patients personal history, 
and overlap with some aspects of the use of hypnosis for similar purposes.

					kind regards,

| Todd I. Stark				  stark at dwovax.enet.dec.com           |
| Digital Equipment Corporation		             (215) 542-3573           |
| Philadelphia, Pa. USA                                                       |
|    "(A word is) the skin of a living thought"  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.   |

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