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Doctor at psychiatric hospital accused of experimenting on children with 'truth serum' drug used on soldiers during WWII


Sodium amytal

(NaturalNews) Reports have emerged that dozens of children at a British psychiatric hospital in the 1960s and 70s were experimented on with a "truth serum" drug, and that many were psychologically or sexually abused.

The stories emerged after a group of "urban explorers" posted photos online of the abandoned Aston Hall Hospital, which is slated to be demolished for housing developments. People started posting comments beneath the photos, sharing their stories of being child patients at Aston Hall.

Survivors of the abuse at Aston Hall formed a support group, which led to still more former child patients coming forward.

Children restrained and injected with experimental drug

Many of the former patients claim they were injected with the drug sodium amytal, colloquially known as "truth serum" for its tendency to lower people's inhibitions. Many of the patients say they were locked in a small room with a mattress on the floor before receiving the shots; some say they had their hands tied with bandages.

All the patients report receiving the drug from the same doctor, medical superintendent Kenneth Milner.

Medical records viewed by the BBC confirm that many children and adolescents at Aston Hall in the 60s and 70s were indeed regularly prescribed 60 mg of sodium amytal.

Sodium amytal is a heavy sedative that was used during World War II to treat traumatized soldiers. It was considered quicker than psychoanalysis, but fell out of favor after the war when doubts were raised about its effectiveness. It was not a preferred treatment for any condition by the 1960s.

"As far as I knew nobody was using [sodium amytal] with children at that time," said Michael Rutter of King's College London, the United Kingdom's first professor of child psychiatry.

Rutter is concerned by the reports of the use of sodium amytal on children, as well as the way it was administered, and says he "would have been concerned even in those days."

Other experts interviewed by the BBC said that if Milner was performing experimental therapies, he should have published the results. But the BBC could find no such publications.

'Not a truth serum'

Many former patients allege that Milner used sodium amytal to psychologically or sexually abuse them. Nearly all said that Milner asked very personal sexual questions while they were under the influence.

In some cases, Milner appears to have been trying to uncover repressed memories of prior sexual abuse. Some patients said that he "coerced" them into believing the stories that he fed them about their childhoods.

Indeed, part of the reason sodium amytal fell out of favor is that it makes patients highly suggestible, and therefore prone to forming false memories fed to them by a "questioner."

"It is not a truth serum," said memory expert Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California-Irvine. "When it comes to the recovery of pristine, accurate, allegedly repressed memories, it's a danger."

One former patient of Milner's, identified as "Sandra," believes that she was fed false memories of abuse. She recalls that after nine or 10 sessions, Milner rejoiced when she said she finally "remembered" being abused by her father.

"You were a hard nut to crack!" he said.

Sandra's accusations against her father tore her family apart. Her sisters said the accusations were implausible, because she had never been alone with her father; it had been her sisters that cared for her.

"It came to me, that perhaps ... for 51 years I have been accusing my father of maybe doing something he did not do," Sandra said.

"If it didn't happen, I've got to live the rest of my life knowing that I've told people that he's done this."

British authorities have launched an investigation into the allegations surrounding Aston Hall. They cannot question Milner himself however; he died in 1975.

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Sources for this article include:

BBC.com

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