What Is A Narco Test? How Is It Done?

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oi-Amritha K

The term narco-analysis is derived from the Greek word narkç, meaning anaesthesia or torpor – a state of physical or mental inactivity. In short, a narco-test is a diagnostic and psychotherapeutic technique that uses psychotropic drugs to explore and exploit mental elements.

Coined by Horseley, narco-analysis first reached the mainstream in 1922, when Robert House, a Texas obstetrician used the method on two prisoners. Recently, the term narco-analysis has been frequently appearing in the news, by reason of discrepancies in the accused’s claim, correlated to the recent unfortunate Hathras news that caused a national uproar.

What Is A Narco Test?

Narco analysis test is a kind of a psychological test which makes use of psychotropic drugs, particularly barbiturates to induce a hypnotic or sedated state in which the subject’s imagination is neutralised, and they are expected to give out true information [1].

Anyone can lie by using their imagination, but in the narco analysis test, the subject’s inhibitions are lowered by interfering with his nervous system at the molecular level, prompting the subject to freely share information and feelings [2]. As the chemicals work to lower one’s inhibition, it becomes difficult though not impossible for him/her to lie.

How Is A Narco Test Done?

The subject will be injected with hypnotics like Sodium Pentothal or Sodium Amytal, and the dose is dependent on the person’s sex, age, health and physical condition [3]. The drug is administered into the subject through a slow IV, where the IV infusion is a controlled administration of medication into your bloodstream over time. Constant monitoring of blood pressure, pulse, or ECG of the subject will be carried out.

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What Happens When Someone Undergoes A Narco Test?

The use of psychotropic drugs sedates the patient and puts them to sleep. As they are in a semi-sleep state, the subject can answer specific but simple questions after giving some suggestions [4]. It is crucial to maintain the level of consciousness and keep the subject in a drowsy state. Upon entering the system, the chemical or the drug depresses the central nervous system, lowers blood pressure and slows the heart rate, which in turn results in the lack of inhibition [5].

Is The Narco Test A Guaranteed Method For Truth Extraction?

Experts assert that it is difficult to consider it as a 100 per cent guaranteed truth extraction method. However, a narco test is a most clinically used method to extract and trace the information out of the subjects’ subconscious mind.

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Apart from the narco test, there are also other two kinds of tests which are popularly used are Polygraph or lie Detection Test and P300 or the Brain Mapping Test.

What Are The Risks Involved In A Narco Test?

In most countries, narco-analysis has been discarded due to the risks it poses to the health of the subject, and also because these tests are considered an invasion of human rights [6]. Studies and experts point out that a wrong dose can send the subject into a coma or even result in death [7].

Narco Analysis Test In India

In India, narco analysis was first used in 2002 in the Godhra case. As narco test is not openly permitted for investigative purposes in most developed and/or democratic countries, there is an increasing criticism from the public and the media [8].

In India, the narco analysis test is carried out by a team comprising of an anesthesiologist, a psychiatrist, a clinical or forensic psychologist, an audio-videographer, and supporting nursing staff. In some cases, the strength of the revelations by subject is further verified by subjecting the person to polygraph and brain mapping tests [9].


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