- Truth drug
A truth drug or truth serum is a psychoactive medication used to obtain information from subjects who are unable or unwilling to provide it otherwise. The unethical use of truth drugs is classified as a form of torture according to international law. However, they are properly and productively utilised in the evaluation of psychotic patients in the practice of psychiatry. That application was first documented by Dr. William Bleckwenn in 1930, and it still has selected uses today. In the latter context, the controlled administration of intravenous hypnotic medications is called "narcosynthesis" or "narcoanalysis." It may be used to procure diagnostically—or therapeutically—vital information, and to provide patients with a functional respite from catatonia or mania.
Active chemical substances
Sedatives or hypnotics that alter higher cognitive function include ethanol, scopolamine, 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate, temazepam, and various barbiturates including sodium thiopental (commonly known as sodium pentothal) and sodium amytal (amobarbital) (see figure at right).
According to prevailing medical thought, information obtained under the influence of intravenously-administered sodium amytal can be unreliable; subjects may mix fact and fantasy in that context. Skeptics imply that much of the claimed effect of the drug relies on the belief of the subject that he or she cannot tell a lie while under its influence. Some observers also feel that amobarbital does not increase truth-telling, but merely increases talking; hence, both truth and fabrication are more likely to be revealed in that construct.
Use by country
India's Central Bureau of Investigation has used intravenous barbiturates for interrogation. One such case in which the CBI has used these techniques is the Noida double murder case. For many criminal cases, the use of these methods may violate the right against self incrimination. On May 5, 2010 the Supreme Court of India held that narco, polygraph and brain mapping tests violate article 20(3) of the Constitution.
A defector from the biological weapons department 12 of the KGB "illegals" (S) directorate (presently a part of Russian SVR service) claimed that a truth drug codenamed SP-117 was highly effective and has been widely used. According to him, "The 'remedy which loosens the tongue' has no taste, no smell, no colour, and no immediate side effects. And, most important, a person has no recollection of having the 'heart-to-heart talk'" and felt afterwards as if they suddenly fell asleep. Officers of the S directorate used the drug primarily to check the trustworthiness of their own illegal agents who operated overseas, including even heroes of the service, such as Vitaly Yurchenko. According to Alexander Litvinenko, Russian presidential candidate Ivan Rybkin was drugged with the same substance by FSB agents during his alleged kidnapping.
To many in modern society, truth serums or truth drugs are little more than myths. A majority of the world population live not knowing that such drugs exist. If the words "truth serum" are heard in society today, many minds will only refer back to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series. Though many reasons account for the lack in knowledge about truth drugs, much falls upon the fact that they are rarely used as in 1963 the US Supreme Court ruled confessions produced as a result of ingestion of truth serum was "unconstitutionally coerced", and therefore inadmissible. In reality, the drugs are used most by Intelligence Agencies and even so, only in the most drastic of circumstances. 
- Brown, David. "Some Believe 'Truth Serums' Will Come Back", The Washington Post, Monday 20 November 2006; page A08.
- ^ Brugger W: May governments ever use torture? Am J Compar Law 2000; 48: 661–678.
- ^ Naples M, Hackett TP: The amytal interview: history and current uses. Psychosomatics 1978; 19: 98–105.
- ^ Bleckwenn WJ: Sodium amytal in certain nervous and mental conditions. Wis Med J 1930; 29: 693–696.
- ^ Tollefson GD: The amobarbital interview in the differential diagnosis of catatonia. Psychosomatics 1982; 23: 437–438.
- ^ Bleckwenn WJ: Production of sleep and rest in psychotic cases. Arch Neurol Psychiatry 1930; 24: 365–375.
- ^ Anonymous: Barbiturates. http://www.surgeryencyclopedia.com/A-Ce/Barbiturates.html, Accessed 9-21-2009.
- ^ Op cit., Ref. 2
- ^ Redlich FC, Ravitz LJ, Dession GH: Narcoanalysis and truth. Am J Psychiatry 1951; 107: 586–593.
- ^ Mann J: The use of sodium amobarbital in psychiatry. Ohio State Med J 1969; 65: 700–702.
- ^ Piper A Jr: 'Truth serum' and 'recovered memories' of sexual abuse: a review of the evidence. J Psychiatry & Law 1993: 3: 447–471.
- ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/india/3661948/Mumbai-attacks-Militant-kept-in-underwear-to-prevent-suicide.html.
- ^ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noida_double_murder_case
- ^ http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/09/15/asia/15brainscan.php
- ^ http://www.ptinews.com/news/639647_Narco-test--brain-mapping-illegal--says-Apex-Court
- ^ Alexander Kouzminov Biological Espionage: Special Operations of the Soviet and Russian Foreign Intelligence Services in the West, Greenhill Books, 2006, ISBN 1-853-67646-2 .
- ^ Alex Goldfarb and Marina Litvinenko. Death of a Dissident: The Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko and the Return of the KGB. New York: Free Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1416551652.
- ^ http://www.mugglenet.com/editorials/editorials/edit-zyrorai01.shtml
- ^ http://www.damninteresting.com/the-truth-about-truth-serum/
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