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Amytal Interviews

3325 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  john_59
Has anyone here ever had a Sodium Amytal interview?

I had two of them years ago when I was in a private mental hospital. It consisted of an inter vienous injection of a combination of amytal and methedrine. The heavy dose of amytal, ( a barbituruate) enough to put one to sleep several times over,takes away ones inhibitions, and one talks freely about things they were normally never discuss with anyone. This is supposed to give the doctor insight into the cause of ones mental/nervous problems.

The doctor generally doesn't discuss what the patient said to him/her after the interview. I can't say that I learned much from the experiences, but I remember them being quite soothing at the time.

The only thing I remember from the first interview was grabbing the doctor who sat beside me on the bed and kissing him on the mouth while fondling his penis through his pants. He looked very surprised but didn't try and stop me. At least as far as i can remember. It was during aperiod in my life when I was questioning my sexuality.

Turns out I am not Gay but do have a strong unconcious identity with the feminine. Particularly as a pre pubescent little girl. I remember my mother saying to her sister that I should have been born a little girl because of my wavy hair and long eyelashes and pretty eyes.

When I was in the State mental hospital my ward therapist, (a Freudian) arranged with another doctor for me to undergo hypnosis. And during the hypnosis I saw myself as being a little girl sitting alone on a big couch watching television.

According to C.G. Jung the feminine aspect of a mans unconcious called the "anima" can often assume the role of an intermediary between his "unconcious mind" and his "concious awareness". So perhaps the recurring theme of my identity as a little girl is something along that order. That is it is a "symbolic" identity. She is a very "sensual" personification of a little girl and perhaps represents my dormant capacity to feel emotionally alive rather than simply alive as a thinking creature, like a "machine animal" existing almost exclusively in the abstract, in rational thought.

Have any of you ever had an "amytal interview"? Has your therapist or docotr ever suggested it?

Below is an article about it which I have copied and pasted. Apparently the amytal interview may be of some help, particualarly when dealing with dissociative conditions.

Wishing you all well in this coming new year.


"The Sodium Amytal Interview

James Randall Noblitt, Ph.D.

The sodium amytal interview is described in the literature as an effective diagnostic and treatment modality for dissociative disorders (deVito, 1993; Putnam, 1989; Ross, 1989). Horsley (1943) who invented the term ?narcoanalysis,? reported a zero mortality rate in over 2000 chemically mediated interviews. Sodium amytal, which is known chemically as sodium amobarbitol, is a barbiturate which, when administered intravenously, produces a relaxed and sleepy state in the subject. While in this state the patient tends to become more talkative, uninhibited, and spontaneous with what appears to be less guarded and defensive speech and behavior. Sodium amytal is not ?truth serum? and individuals can lie or otherwise report misinformation under the influence of this barbiturate. However, individuals with dissociation of identity typically respond with overt symptoms and signs of their dissociative disorder including flashbacks, abreactions, and visual imagery with narratives by the patient in alternate dissociated identity states. This procedure provides an opportunity for clarifying the possibility of a diagnosis entailing dissociation of identity (e.g., dissociative identity disorder, dissociative disorder not otherwise specified) when the symptom pattern is otherwise equivocal or would benefit from further internal corroboration. In most cases after the interview is completed, the patient reports a sense of having gained new information about his or her dissociative disorder.

Generally, the interview is not conducted merely for information gathering, it also has therapeutic value. The calming effect of the medication provides an emotional analgesic, (1) assisting the patient?s coping with traumatic images and memories, (2) minimizing the risk of retraumatization by the therapy process, and (3) desensitizing the patient to the traumatic material. The sodium amytal procedure is not only helpful for clients who believe that they have been victimized but it also may be useful in assisting perpetrators who have dissociated their acts of violence (Melton, Petrila, Poythress, & Slobogin, 1987).

In my own practice, the sodium amytal interview is not directly utilized for the purpose of ?memory recovery.? The sodium amytal procedure merely allows the client to explore his or her experience while in a dissociated state. Although memory is one kind of experience, an individual?s experience may also consist of sensations, perceptions, fantasies, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, etc. I do not attempt to convince a patient that any of his or her experiences are memories versus fantasies. Ultimately this is a determination that is the patient?s responsibility to make by sifting through the evidence of his or her own experience. In any case, if a patient feels traumatized by fantasies or memories, this trauma experience must be resolved in order for the patient to experience wellness.

In the more than 200 sodium amytal interviews I have conducted, there have never been any complaints of adverse side effects. The majority of patients undergoing this procedure report that it was beneficial to them. None of these patients has ever expressed any regret for having participated in the sodium amytal mediated sessions. However, the sodium amytal interview is no panacea and it is important for the practitioner to explain to the patient the limitations inherent in the procedure. It is essential that appropriately trained medical personnel administer the medication in a medically appropriate environment. Of equal importance is insuring the protection of patient and clinician alike via informed consent and detailed releases. Sodium amytal is another valuable tool in the treatment of dissociative disorders.


deVito, R.A. (1993). The use of amytal interviews in the treatment of an exceptionally complex case of multiple personality disorder. In R. P. Kluft & C. G. Fine (Eds.), Clinical perspectives on multiple personality disorder (pp. 227 - 240). Washington, DC: American P11sychiatric Press.

Horsley, J.S. (1943). Narcoanalysis. New York: Oxford Medical Publications.

Melton, G.B., Petrila, J., Poythress, N.G., & Slobogin, C. (1987). Psychological evaluations for the courts. New York: Guilford.

Putnam, F. W. (1989). Diagnosis and treatment of multiple personality disorder. New York: Guilford Press.

Ross, C.A. (1989). Multiple personality disorder: Diagnosis, clinical features, and treatment. New York: Wiley."
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