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'Narcoanalysis (Narco Analysis Test or Narco Test) refers to the practice of administering barbiturates or certain other chemical substances, most often sodium pentothal , to lower a subject's inhibitions, in the hope that the subject will more freely share information and feelings.

Use in forensic context[edit | edit source]

The term Narco Analysis was coined by Horseley. Narco analysis first reached the mainstream in 1922, when Robert House, a Texas obstetrician used the drug scopolamine on two prisoners. Since then narco testing has become largely discredited in most democratic states, including the United States and Britain. There is a vast body of literature calling into question its ability to yield legal truth. Additionally, narcoanalysis has serious legal and ethical implications.

A person is able to lie by using his imagination. In the Narco Analysis Test, the subject's inhibitions are lowered by interfering with his nervous system at the molecular level. In this state, it becomes difficult though not impossible for him to lie .In such sleep-like state efforts are made to obtain "probative truth" about the crime. Experts inject a subject with hypnotics like Sodium Pentothal or Sodium Amytal under the controlled circumstances of the laboratory. The dose is dependent on the person's sex, age, health and physical condition. The subject which is put in a state of Hypnotism is not in a position to speak up on his own but can answer specific but simple questions after giving some suggestions. This type of test is not always admissible in the law courts. It states that subjects under a semi-conscious state do not have the mind set to properly answer any questions, while some other courts openly accept them as evidence. Studies have shown that it is possible to lie under narcoanalysis and its reliability as an investigative tool is questioned in most countries. A few democratic countries, India most notably, still continue to use narcoanalysis. This has come under increasing criticism from the public and the media in that country. Narcoanalysis is not openly permitted for investigative purposes in most developed and/or democratic countries. but the result of such test can not be used as evidence in the court of law since it violates fundamental right against self-incrimination(Article 20(3) of the constitution of India).

In India, the Narco Analysis test is done by a team comprising of an anesthesiologist, a psychiatrist, a clinical/ forensic psychologist, an audio-videographer, and supporting nursing staff.The forensic psychologist will prepare the report about the revelations, which will be accompanied by a compact disc of audio-video recordings. The strength of the revelations, if necessary, is further verified by subjecting the person to polygraph and brain mapping tests.

The test[edit | edit source]

Truth serum are drugs used in narco-analysis that cause a person to become uninhibited, but they do not guarantee the veracity of the subject’s statement. People who are under the influence of truth serums enter a hypnotic state and speak freely about anxieties or painful memories. The subject’s imagination is neutralised when semi-conscious, making it difficult for him/her to lie and his/her answers would be restricted to facts of which he/she is aware. However, there are cases that show that subjects can create fantasy and deception under the influence of these drugs. In India, the test is done but with the consent of the person in question.

Reliability[edit | edit source]

Although inhibitions are generally reduced, people under the influence of truth serums are still able to lie and even tend to fantasise.

Drugs administered[edit | edit source]

Sodium pentothal is an ultrashort-acting barbiturate, which sedates only for a few minutes. It slows down the heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and inhibits brain and spinal cord activity. Sodium amytal and Scopolamine are other drugs used.

Legal position[edit | edit source]

Such tests generally don’t have legal validity as confessions made by a semi-conscious person are not admissible in court. The court may, however, grant limited admissibility after considering the circumstances under which the test was obtained. In the main, these tests can only assist police investigations.

Use in clinical context[edit | edit source]

Narcoanalysis was a form of psychoanalysis which used drugs, particularly barbiturates as a way of reducing resistance. The drugs however tended to make patients very drowsy and is not used in modern prctice

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  • Bardos, M. (1980). Analysis of some of the mechanisms of therapy in subnarcosis: Cesko-Slovenska Psychiatrie Vol 76(2) Apr 1980, 98-101.
  • Cornet, C., Sylva, P., & Szafran, A. W. (1980). Narcoanalysis--"the sleeping beauty." Acta Psychiatrica Belgica Vol 80(1) Jan-Feb 1980, 91-100.
  • Damian, N. (1972). Narcotherapy in neuroses: Neurologia, Psihiatria, Neurochirurgia Vol 17(2) Mar 1972, 125-130.
  • Denson, R. (2002). Abreaction: Psychiatric Bulletin Vol 26(7) Jul 2002, 276.
  • Golechha, G. R., Rao, A. V., & Ruggu, R. K. (1985). Ketamine abreaction: Two case reports: Indian Journal of Psychiatry Vol 27(4) Oct 1985, 341-342.
  • Hefez, A., & Lanyi, G. (1972). Neuropsychiatric manifestations of ketamine hydrochloride: Israel Annals of Psychiatry & Related Disciplines Vol 10(2) Jun 1972, 180-187.
  • Hurwitz, T. A. (1988). Ideogenic neurological deficits: Conscious mechanisms in conversion symptoms: Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology, & Behavioral Neurology Vol 1(4) Win 1988, 301-308.
  • Hurwitz, T. A. (1988). Narcosuggestion in chronic conversion symptoms using combined intravenous amobarbital and methylphenidate: The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry / La Revue canadienne de psychiatrie Vol 33(2) Mar 1988, 147-152.
  • Jauch, T. E., Loch, J., Earl, J., & Bauer, W. (1973). Droperidol: A preferred neuroleptic in narcoanalysis: Diseases of the Nervous System Vol 34(5) Jun 1973, 259-262.
  • Kolb, L. C. (1991). PTSD: Psychopathology and the startle response: Psychiatric Quarterly Vol 62(3) Fal 1991, 233-250.
  • Moaz, B., & Pincus, C. (1979). The therapeutic dialogue in narco-analytic treatments: Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice Vol 16(1) Spr 1979, 91-97.
  • Muse, M. (1984). Narcosynthesis in the treatment of posttraumatic chronic pain: A case study: Rehabilitation Psychology Vol 29(2) Sum 1984, 113-118.
  • Olaru, A. (1982). Narcoanalysis: A method of exploration and treatment in neuroses: Revista de Medicina Interna, Neurologie, Psihiatrie, Neurochirurgie, Dermato-Venerologie Vol 27(4) Oct-Dec 1982, 301-306.
  • Philippopoulos, G. S. (1976). Short and long-term therapies in psychosomatic disorders: Behavioral Neuropsychiatry Vol 8(1-12) Apr-Mar 1976-1977, 87-89.
  • Press, L. J., Cummings, R. W., Siegfried, J. B., & Altman, B. (1982). Electrodiagnostic testing of visually impaired children under sedation: Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness Vol 76(4) Apr 1982, 129-132.
  • Scherrer, P., Potez, H., & Nedelec, J. L. (1983). A case of severe obsessional neurosis treated with behavior therapy, followed by narcoanalysis: Annales Medico-Psychologiques Vol 141(9) Nov 1983, 987-997.
  • Walker, J. I. (1982). Chemotherapy of traumatic war stress: Military Medicine Vol 147(12) Dec 1982, 1029-1033.
  • Wilson, S. (2002). Survey of the use of abreaction by consultant psychiatrists: Psychiatric Bulletin Vol 26(2) Feb 2002, 58-60.
  • Zubin, J. (1947). Review of Narco-analysis: Psychological Bulletin Vol 44(6) Nov 1947, 570-571.

External links[edit | edit source]

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