Thursday, December 10, 2009

The truth behind the truth serum

I underwent a strange transformation having seen the CDs showing Telgi and Afsar Pasha being subjected to narco analysis tests. Strange, because I had developed an urge to be 'narcoed' myself and tell the world about such an experience. In some ways it had appealed to me. So, I decided to undergo the test. But there was a problem. Such tests at the forensic science laboratory are not allowed without the permission of the Court.That put me in a fix...until I discovered that psychiatrists too resort to subjecting their patients to similar tests using the same drug -- Sodium Pentothal, the truth serum.I zeroed in on one shrink, trying to convince him over the phone that I had a severe psychic problem.

But on seeing me in person he probably thought I required one anyways!The D-day was set for Sept 20 (Wednesday). Despite my urge to experience what Telgi had undergone, I was a nervous wreck. And the reasons were many. Would I blurt out more than I needed to? Would I be able to control what I was saying? What if secrets tumbled out? Would that ruin my career, my life, and me? Or at the end of the test, would I emerge as a reformed Munnabhai who reveals everything openly to feel good? If I were found speaking the whole truth and nothing but the truth, then this would be one drug my wife wouldn’t mind me being addicted to. Shedding my inhibitions, the thought seemed exciting. And the only way I could do it to the fullest was to tell the truth about everything. What the hell.... the drug would do it for me.D-Day morning: I woke up early feeling a pumpkin-sized ball in the pit of my stomach. The appointment was for 10 am. My brother volunteered to drive me to and from the venue (not disclosed). Once there, the shrink assured me that all would be well.

There was a 15-minute counselling session before the actual truth parade began, and then the zero hour. I panicked a little and insisted that my brother remain in the room with me for moral support, at least. The norms do not allow such presence, except the specialists. But my shrink was kind enough to make an exception to that rule.The yellow crystal drug, sodium pentothal, was injected into my left arm. It was not the usual was done slowly....very slowly, for a longer lasting effect.I had ensured that the syringe was a disposable one. Imagine taking a test for thrills and going out into the world with HIV! It did occur to me that they would have taken care of all these things without my telling ...but still I had to make sure.

The psychiatrist spoke slowly and soothingly, telling me that I was in a bus. Why a bus of all the things, I wondered. And that was the last thing I remembered doing.The effect of the drug takes the subject into three stages - of sedation, hypnotisation and anaesthetization. The quantum of drug used in a narco analysis only extends till the second stage - hypnotic trance. I had prepared a set of questions and a day before the test I had answered each one of them in my normal state of mind. I knew I would not be able to witness my own narco analysis, so this was the best way I could do it.

Moreover, my brother too landed up as a witness to the test after my last-minute pangs of panic. So he was there to tell me later about the rubbish (or was it?) I would be blabbering. Obviously, I knew what I had answered in my conscious state before. But what I saw answered by me during the test was way different compared to those.Here goes the narco saga, as reported to me later by the shrink and my brother:"Are you the greatest person?"I had said 'No', but it was in the affirmative during the test, even adding that "I am God's special child."

I had said that I did not like talking to anyone in particular. The test revealed that I liked talking to my teddy bear, the Pooh Bear. Why? "Because he listens and does not talk back." I was told later that the staff in the room (including my brother) were giggling at this one – a 30-year-old talking to his teddy bear!The shrink: "Do you miss anything in your life?""My dog Droopy who died three years ago. I have never been able to get over it."In a normal state of my mind, I had answered about having missed nothing at all in my life.

"Do you get along with everyone in your office?" asked the shrink. Although, I do not, during the test I had said “Yes”."Are you supportive and truly happy if someone does better?""No.""Why not?""I want to be in the limelight always and nobody else should be better than me," my subconscious voice had reportedly said.

"What impresses you most about a woman?""Her footwear!" My earlier answer had been "her character".The shrink probed deeper: "Tell me, who according to you is an ideal mother?"My answer to this one was that I already had an ideal mother, but the drug for whatever reason made me say, "Salman Khan's mother in Maine Pyaar Kiya.""Why?""Because she understands everything."In my wake-stage answers, I had said that I had no secrets, but during the test, I had said that I secretly wished I were the only son to hog all the attention at home -- something that my brother, who personally witnessed the truth drama, is upset about it even now, though he did drive me back home safely!!

"What about journalists in Bangalore?"I refused to divulge anything initially. But on being prodded, I said there were only two good journalists here, but did not give out their names."Why are you in this field?""I feel powerful.""What is your ambition?""To become the Chief Justice of India."“Why?” “Because, he is powerful.”"How were you as a student?"Said me: "I was always good. Topped the class.""Did your teachers complain?""No, they did not. But I once scored 'zero' on 50 in Economics" – a decade-old fact which I had hidden all these years.

The 40-minute test was over.I was told that I had slept for over three hours after that, waking up with a strange feeling. Very drowsy, but my mind felt light. I felt breathless for a while, but the doc said that it was purely psychological. It took me a while to recollect where I was since I had remained totally disconnected from the world for almost four hours.

Here’s the shrink's account:I was an attention seeker and a dramatic person, a kind from who information can be got easily during a narco analysis. But a submissive person would not reveal anything and would go into his shell most of the time even during a narco analysis.What was Telgi like?This only goes out to show that a narco is not the bible in any investigation unless the evidence obtained out of it is corroborated by further tests and investigations.

After effects:It took me almost 24 hours to completely get out of the hangover of the test. But before such a thing could happen there seemed to be no kind of hand-brain coordination. I felt like my reflexes were several times slower than usual. Looking back now, I realise that not everything I said had been the truth. Comparing the pre-test answers with those under the test I realise that the latter not only brought out exaggeration and fantasy, but also some truth. It is the person you want to be and not the person that you are.
Note: Narco analysis, which is being used on criminals today, could only serve as a mere investigative tool and cannot be admissible as evidence. A person is able to conceal information; he can train his brain to lie so much that he believes himself.To sum it all up, "You shed your inhibitions but never lose your self-control". Nothing can compel you to tell the truth, unless you want to do it yourself”.Telgi is learnt to have said after his narco, "I feel fresh and nice. Let me go through it once more!"But not me. I felt like a zombie, my head was heavy and worse, I was very hungry all the time after waking up.

Courtesy: Vijay Times News

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