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