Amytal Sodium

Amytal Sodium
generic name Amobarbital Sodium

"amobarbital sodium:: an intermediate-acting barbiturate used as a sedative and hypnotic. It has been used as an anesthetic agent in fish."

- The Free Dictionary

"One of the major medications used is sodium amytal. Although sodium amytal was used in the past in military combat trauma situations, currently it is more often used in assisting people to retrieve memories of childhood abuse....After being given a intravenous injection of sodium amytal, which is a barbiturate, the patient becomes somewhat drowsy. The therapist guides the patient in the nondirective fashion to earlier critical scenes similarly to hypnotic age regression. It is surmised that, at this point, the ego defense guards are penetrated and veritable truth will emerge from the now opening unconscious. " (p. 75)

"Over the years, sodium amytal has been used in an attempt to unclog the buried arteries of the patient's past. It was presumed that what emerged will be the truth. For that reason, sodium amytal has been called a truth serum...
Clinical and experimental research on the use of sodium amytal directly contradicts the notion of a 'truth serum'. If anything, when subjects respond after being administered sodium amytal, there is no way to discern truth from fabrication. When subjects are asked to lie or make up symptoms, they can do so under sodium amytal. Sodium amytal is an extremely unreliable method for retrieving memories in that there is no way to determine the truth or falsity without corroboration. Moreover, the demand characteristics of the setting may exert pressure to conform to the wishes and expectations of the therapist" (p. 84)

- excerpts from The Death of Psychotherapy: From Freud to Alien Abductions by Donald A. Eisner (2000)

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