THE BLOG

I Took a Truth Serum Test

03/11/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

It's been over 2 months since the Indian government announced that they would be using truth serum on the Mumbai terrorists and we've heard nothing further. I'm especially interested in the outcome since I was given a truth serum test once -- and it worked.

And now that it appears that our government is finally abandoning the coercive methods of the past, they might look into "truth serum" as a more humane -- and in some instances like mine, more effective -- method of eliciting the truth.

My experience with truth serum was over 35 years ago, when I was accused of a crime I hadn't committed by a cult I'd exposed in my first book. I tried to take a lie detector test to prove they had framed me to silence me, but was declared untestable by a top expert after my control question answers were too ambiguous.

So I volunteered to take a "truth serum" test, administered by a highly respected Manhattan doctor. I put on a hospital gown, lay down on an examining table, rolled up my sleeve, and stuck out my arm.

The doctor inserted a needle into the back of my hand, and told me to count from 10 down. I got down to about 4 when the "truth serum" (sodium amytal, not pentathol, was used.)

While I was under, I was interrogated over several hours, during which time I'm sure the doctor put me at various levels of awareness so it would have been impossible for me to fool him or fake it.

Afterwards, I had no idea what I said, for I was like someone who had talked in their sleep and recalled nothing of it afterward. I couldn't have controlled what I said any more than someone under general anesthetic could. When you're unconscious, it's hard to hold things back, manipulate or prevaricate. But my responses proved to the prosecutors that I knew nothing about how the crime had been committed and repeatedly named members of the cult as the probable perpetrators. The charges were eventually dropped.

Five years later I was proven correct when documents emerged confirming that they had indeed committed the crime to frame me, but that is another story.

Whenever I endorse narcoanalysis for terrorists, people ask how we could put someone in a semi-surgical state and insert something into them without their consent? But right now, 44 Guantanamo Bay prisoners are refusing food -- and 33 of them are receiving nutrition with tubes forced up their noses and into their stomachs. It certainly isn't with their consent. Why are the rules different for saving them than for saving us?

Another argument I've encountered is that what people say during the test isn't always true. Lie detector tests may only be about 50% accurate, but our government and private companies frequently act on their results.