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What is Pharmacological Torture?


Pharmacological torture is the use of psychotropic or other drugs to punish or extract information from a person. The aim is to force compliance by causing distress, which could be in the form of pain, anxiety, psychological disturbance, immobilization, or disorientation.

One form of this torture involves forcibly injecting a person with addictive drugs in order to induce physical dependence. The drug is then withdrawn, and, once the person is in withdrawal, the interrogation is started. If the person complies with the torturer's demands, the drug is reintroduced, relieving the person's withdrawal symptoms.

United States

In the United States, in a series of hearings in the fall and winter of 1977, Congressional committees drew forth disclosure of project MKULTRA, which was most active between 1953 and 1966 and conducted experiments that included the CIA agents administering LSD and Truth Serum to soldiers, citizens, and foreign nationals without their knowledge or consent. Activities of MKULTRA resulted in at least one death, that of Frank Olson, an army scientist who was given LSD without his knowledge, and committed suicide as a result of his experience.

In 1953 Harold Blauer died in a New York State psychiatric institute after doctors there administered 3,4-Methylenedioxyamphetamine derivatives to him without his consent, as part of a 1950s secret program run by the US army that tested chemical warfare agents on US citizens


Pharmacological Torture

The Encyclopedia of Word Problems:

"Pharmacological torture is the enforced application of psychotropic or other drugs for the purposes of punishing, yielding information or causing profound mental destruction, anxiety and psychological disturbances, pain, immobilization or disorientation. Morphine is administered to prisoners until they are addicted. Once they are addicted the drugs are stopped and interrogation begins at the onset of withdrawal symptoms. If they give enough information they are given another fix. Ether or other pain causing chemical are injected. Victims are given a slow acting poison like thallium and then released so they die sometime after they leave the prison. Psychopharmacological drugs are used to blunt senses or as psychotropics, including hallucinogens. Neuromuscular blocking agents (curare compounds) are abused to paralyse fully-awake subjects, causing total panic because they are unable to breath. The victims are not offered oxygen until the point of suffocation. Victims have been given insulin shock therapy as a form of punishment."

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