Mental Health Monday–Veritaserum Muggle-Style

Author Lynn Rush asks:

Are there any drugs out there that would make someone more susceptible to mind control/brain washing?

The quick answer is no.

HOWEVER, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, the Amytal Interview was used mainly in psychotherapy to draw up information from the unconscious (AKA subconscious) mind. Some thought it helped patients recover “forgotten memories.”

Sodium Amytal (amobarbitol) is a barbituate drug that can induce similar effects to alcohol intoxication (drowsiness, slurred speech, distorted sense of time, a feeling of warmth) and those given the drug can enter what’s called the “twilight” state (which is between sleep and wakefulness).

(Those of you who watched Hannibal Rising remember the scene where Hannibal injects himself with a drug to remember the men who murdered his sister, right? Well, that’s the idea.)

Further research found that people can actually fabricate (lie) information while in this twilight state. Therefore, the idea that truth will be told when in a relaxed, drugged state is NOT accurate.

Bummer, right?

Er, I mean, it would make a nice plot device in any novel, but is not reality. ๐Ÿ˜‰

A “fun” fact: Soldiers were given Sodium Amytal to treat “Shell Shock” (now called Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) in World War II. It allowed the soldiers to return to the front lines. Yay for them. O_o

Remember, these posts are for writing purposes only and are NOT to be construed as medical treatment or advice.

Check out Lydia Kang’s Medical Monday post and Sarah Fine’s The Strangest Situation.

14 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Veritaserum Muggle-Style

  1. Those poor soldiers.

    Truth serum has been used in so many movies. Interesting to know it’s not true.

  2. Sheri Larsen says:

    This would make an interesting element in a story. It’s awful how it was used in the past, though. I agree with Theresa: poor soldiers.

  3. Sarah says:

    It’s wonderful that you’re clarifying this, Laura!

  4. roguemutt says:

    So you’re saying I shouldn’t go and inject myself with this? Damn.

  5. kendallgrey says:

    Good question, and interesting answer. Thanks for posting these tidbits. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Vicki Tremper says:

    I’ve seen it so often on TV and in movies, I didn’t know it didn’t really work. Wow!

  7. Reece says:

    What about sodium pentothal (sorry if I misspell it)? What does that do?

    Also, I’m looking for an interviewee for my blog. Are you interested? Drop me a line at reece[dot]hanzon[at]gmail[dot]com and let me know either way. Thanks!

  8. Lynn Rush says:

    LOVE this. I’ve always wondered about drugs and making people more open to suggestions. I have this idea for a character who witnessed something super bad, has a touch of PTSD, and someone stepped in and kinda “drugged” her through it and along the way “convinced” her to do some “assignments” that weren’t so good along the way. So, I was researching drugs and such. . . This is really helpful stuff!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Karen Lange says:

    Interesting stuff! Thanks a bunch!

  10. Krispy says:

    Very interesting stuff. Poor soldiers!

    I wonder if people are worse liars or better ones in this drugged up state.

  11. Linda Gray says:

    What a great name for a truth drug–Veritaserum. So its no good for mind control–that’s a disappointment to some writers, right there. But maybe its actual properties could be useful in a plot. . . hmmm. Thanks!

  12. Great question and answer. We just need to use Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. lenny says:

    hi dr laura! yikes! im in a twilight state! im seeing white spots moving all over your blog! ha ha. thats a real intresting post. now its got me wondering how could you control someones mind if that drug doesnt do it? maybe getting hipnotized.
    …hugs from lenny

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