SODIUM AMYTAL for Jordan Chandler
Updated February 26, 2012
The aim of this post is not to definitely answer whether Jordan Chandler was or wasn’t given sodium amytal (the so-called “truth serum”). Its aim is to evaluate the chances of its administration and the effect the drug could have on Jordan Chandler (if it was ever given to him at all).
Jordan’s interview with Dr. Richard Gardner takes us to July 16, 1993 as the date whey Evan Chandler put the boy to sleep in order to take his tooth out. After Jordie regained consciousness his father asked him if anything had happened between him and Michael and after some hesitation the boy said “yes” for the first time. Up till then Jordie had never claimed there was anything improper between the two of them. The drug under which Jordan started talking was told to be sodium amytal which is wrongly assumed to be a “truth serum”.
Four days prior to that, on July 12, private investigator Anthony Pellicano interviewed Jordan Chandler in MJ’s Century City apartment and asked him direct and specific questions for 45 minutes about his relationship with Michael Jackson. In her book “The King of Pop’s Darkest Hour” Lisa D. Campbell says that Jordan denied even seeing Michael’s body, not to mention molestation:
- “The boy answered “NO” to each and every question. Pellicano asked if he had ever seen Michael’s body, and the boy said “NO”, but he did lift his shirt once to show him the blotches on his skin. Jordy then complained that his father always wanted him to sit in the house and write screenplays, and that his father just wanted money”.
Pellicano explained that it was important to him to know for himself if this had ever happened, because if it had he would have turned Michael in himself. It was only after Jordan denied any wrongdoing on the part of Michael Jackson that Anthony Pellicano became involved in the case on behalf of Michael.
So the questions I asked myself were:
- Did Jordan really tell the truth under the drug?
- Was the “truth serum” given to him at all?
- And is sodium amytal indeed a truth serum?
In search for the answers the first step was to look at what others have to say about it:
Diane Dimond says she obtained information from confidential sources, Ray Chandler (the boy’s uncle) and documents including the anesthesiologist’s own report. They show that Jordan Chandler was not given sodium amytal that day. According to the anesthesiologist’s records, there is no reference to the barbiturate sodium amytal. The purchase of sodium amytal requires filing specific forms with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). No such forms were located in this case by law enforcement officers or the media.
She claims that “questions about whether Dr. Chandler implanted the molestation in Jordie’s subconscious while the boy was under the influence of anesthesia first surfaced in a story that ran in GQ magazine’” (Mary Fischer’s article, October, 1994).
Yan Halperin says that D. Dimond may be unaware of the fact that the sodium amytal story was first reported not by Fischer, but by a newsman for KCBS-TV five months earlier. The reporter asked Evan Chandler whether he had used the drug on his son. Rather than denying sodium amytal was involved, Chandler claimed he had used the drug only to pull his son’s tooth out and that while under that drug’s influence, the boy came out with the allegation.
Mary Fischer, however, was not content to rely solely on the KCBS-TV report. She went straight to the source of this information and asked Mark Torbiner whether he used sodium amytal during Jordan Chandler’s dental procedure. Rather than denying it, he told Fischer, “If I used it, it was for dental purposes”.
Here is a link to an article that further discusses the case of Gary Ramona, who was falsely accused by his daughter of molestation after she was given sodium amytal by her psychiatrist. Fischer referenced this case in her GQ article.
Geraldine Hughes (author of the Redemption book and supporter of Michael’s innocence) on the other hand does not believe in the sodium amytal theory. She says:
- “No, I think that’s their story on how they found out. I really believe that the whole thing was plotted and planned [ ]. They made it look like they just happened to take the boy to the psychiatrist and that’s where he got the information. Then I’m hearing the sodium thing, so I thought, first you said the psychiatrist is the one that got the information and then now you’re saying, the father put him under a truth serum and I’m like, which one is it?”
However Ray Chandler, Jordan Chandler’s uncle, provided a transcript of his nephew’s interview with a psychiatrist as a proof that sodium amytal had been administered. In that interview Jordan Chandler says:
- “My father had to pull my tooth out one time, like, while I was there. And I don’t like pain, so I said could you put me to sleep? And he said sure. So his friend put me to sleep; he’s an anesthesiologist. And um, when I woke up my tooth was out, and I was alright – a little out of it but conscious. And my Dad said – and his friend was gone, it was just him and me – and my dad said, ‘I just want you to let me know, did anything happen between you and Michael?’ And I said ‘Yes,’ and he gave me a big hug and that was it.”
Let me review all of the above not to mess things up:
- Jordan’s father Evan Chandler admitted on TV that he had used the drug to pull Jordan’s tooth out.
- His friend Mark Torbiner, the anesthesiologist, vaguely confirmed it by saying “If I used it, it was for dental purposes”.
- Jordan also said to his psychiatrist that he was put to sleep before having his tooth pulled out.
- Ray Chandler said one thing to D.Dimond and another to everyone else as he included in his book “All that glitters” Jordan’s interview with the psychiatrist where he speaks about his tooth taken under a sedative.
- And it is only Michael’s supporter Geraldine Hughes who doubts Evan’s story though the use of a mind-altering drug seems to be a factor in favor of Michael’s innocence.
Since all this is somewhat confusing the next step was to look up the description of sodium amytal and the way it works. All sources available to us say that sodium amytal is no truth serum at all as it only provokes people to fantasize.
The fact that international law also regards sodium amytal as a means of torture explains why the anesthesiologist was so careful in wording his statement (“If I used it, it was for dental purposes”). He didn’t want any complications for himself, though the choice of this drug for pulling a tooth is highly unusual, as sodium amytal is not an anesthetic or pain killer – its purpose is totally different as it is mainly used in psychiatry.
Another interesting point is that since the “evidence” obtained under sodium amytal is not considered truthful it is not admissible in the court of law. And since Evan Chandler said it himself that he had given his son this drug (even at the risk of being accused of using it as a “means of torture”) he looks like not wanting his son’s testimony to be admitted in the court of law or him to testify there at all. Interesting…
One more point worth mentioning is that sedation under sodium amytal “occurs in one hour or longer and lasts for 10 to 12 hours” which shows that its use for pulling a tooth was extremely out of place. However if it was used it becomes a clear sign that Evan Chandler gave it to his son solely for interrogation purposes and/or planting false memories into his mind.
Intelligence Encyclopedia says,
“The term ‘truth serum’ has been applied to drugs that are used in narcoanalysis. This term is a misnomer in two ways: the drugs used are not serums and truthfulness is not guaranteed. Although inhibitions are generally reduced, persons under the influence of truth serums are still able to lie and even tend to fantasize. Courts have ruled that information obtained from narcoanalysis is inadmissible.
Narcoanalysis is not used in the United States as an interrogation method. The unethical use of truth drugs is classified as a form of torture according to international law. However, they are used in the evaluation of psychotic patients in the practice of psychiatry.
Truth serums are divided into classes according to the duration of sedation: ultrashort, short, intermediate, and long. Sodium Amytal is an intermediate-acting barbiturate. Sedation occurs in one hour or longer and lasts for 10 to 12 hours. Sodium amytal depresses the central nervous system. It is used as a sedative, hypnotic, and anticonvulsive and for narcoanalysis. When sodium amytal is used for narcoanalysis it may be called an “Amytal interview.”
An even more informative source is a CIA study of special interrogation methods by means of truth serums. This report says that Sodium Amytal is a dangerous drug as it causes death in case of an overdosage, so using it for interrogation purposes requires maintaining it in the body at a low but constant level through multiple intravenous injections:
Sodium amytal can be given orally but it would be difficult to achieve and maintain the proper dose using the oral route. So for narcoanalysis the only method of administration used is intravenous injection.
A subject coming under the influence of a sodium amytal injected intravenously goes through all the stages of progressive drunkenness. Outwardly the sedation effect is dramatic – the patient’s features slacken, his body relaxes. Some people are momentarily excited; a few become silly and giggly. This usually passes, and most subjects fall asleep, emerging later in disoriented semi-wakefulness. The descent into narcosis and beyond with progressively larger doses can be divided as follows:
I. SEDATIVE STAGE
II. UNCONSCIOUSNESS, WITH EXAGGERATED REFLEXES (hyperactive stage).
III. UNCONSCIOUSNESS, WITHOUT REFLEX EVEN TO PAINFUL STIMULI. At this stage consciousness is lost and coma follows. The subject no longer responds even to noxious stimuli, and cannot be roused.
IV. DEATH. In the last stage, respiration ceases.
Whether all these stages can be distinguished in any given subject depends largely on the dose and the rapidity with which the drug is induced. In anesthesia, stages I and II may last only two or three seconds.
The first or sedative stage can be further divided:
Plane 1. No evident effect, or slight sedative effect.
Plane 2. Cloudiness, calmness, amnesia. (Upon recovery, the subject will not remember what happened at this or “lower” planes or stages.)
Plane 3. Slurred speech, old thought patterns disrupted, inability to integrate or learn new patterns. Poor coordination. Subject becomes unaware of painful stimuli.
Plane 3 of the Sedative stage is the psychiatric “work” stage. It may last only a few minutes, but it can be extended by further slow injection of the drug. The usual practice is to bring the subject quickly to Stage II and to conduct the interview as he passes back into the sedative stage on the way to full consciousness.
Administering drugs requires clinical judgment. Knowing what to expect and how to react appropriately to the unexpected takes both technical and clinical skill. The process calls for qualified medical personnel, and sober reflection on the depths of barbituric (sodium amytal) anesthesia will confirm that it would not be enough merely to have access to a local physician.
…The subject was kept in twilight consciousness. In it his speech was thick, mumbling, and disconnected, but his discretion was markedly reduced. This valuable interrogation period, lasting only five to ten minutes at a time, could be reinduced by injecting more amytal and putting the patient back to sleep.
Several patients revealed fantasies, fears, and delusions approaching delirium, much of which could readily be distinguished from reality. But sometimes there was no way for the examiner to distinguish truth from fantasy except by reference to other sources.
One subject claimed to have a child that did not exist, another threatened to kill on sight a stepfather who had been dead a year, and yet another confessed to participating in a robbery when in fact he had only purchased goods from the participants.
During the follow-up interview nine of the 17 admitted the validity of their confessions; eight repudiated their confessions and reaffirmed their earlier accounts. The results showed that normal individuals who had good defenses and no overt pathological traits could stick to their invented stories and refuse confession.
Neurotic individuals with strong unconscious self-punitive tendencies, on the other hand, both confessed more easily and were inclined to substitute fantasy for the truth, confessing to offenses never actually committed.
J.M.MacDonald, who as a psychiatrist for the District Courts of Denver has had extensive experience with narcoanalysis, says that drug interrogation is of doubtful value. Criminal suspects under the influence of barbiturates may falsely confess to crimes they did not commit. And the tendency against which an interrogator must guard in the interrogatee to give the responses that seem to be wanted without regard for facts will be heightened by drugs: the literature abounds with warnings that a subject in narcosis is extremely suggestible. In the drunken state of narcoanalysis patients are prone to accept the therapist’s false constructions.
If all subjects under the sodium amytal narcosis are extremely suggestible it is no wonder Jordan never spoke of any molestation before the drug, but after its administration hesitantly agreed that it had taken place. He could have easily acquired the knowledge about his alleged “molestation” from his own father who admitted that he used this drug on him, though “for dental purposes” only.
And though we do know that Evan Chandler said he administered the drug we still don’t know whether he used it for interrogating him or planting false memories into his mind – deliberately or unwittingly (just by asking about the details of “molestation”). To learn an answer to that we need to ask ourselves some more questions and depending on which answer each of us gives, so will be our conclusion on this matter.
I suggest some questions which focus not on Jordan Chandler but on the character and nature of his father:
- Could Evan Chandler use this type of drug for INTERROGATING his son?
He could. In addition to that he even said he had used this highly improper drug on Jordan and specially invited an anesthesiologist for the purpose.
- WAS there any other way for him to find out whether the awful suspicions raging in his brain were justified?
No, there wasn’t. Since the only answer he was getting from his son was a stubborn denial of any misconduct on Michael’s part I think that Evan Chandler was sure he could not force Jordan to speak in any other way.
- WAS he able to cope with his imagination that had been killing his mind for several months by then?
I think he wasn’t. This man was unable to cope with his emotions and passions in general. Jordan Chandler’s father was an extremely suspicious, jealous and unruly guy who beat his both wives, had a fight with Jordan’s stepfather David and even made an attempt on the life of his son many years later. He was consumed by very strong emotions and was capable of fatal decisions as his own suicide shows it.
- Even if he was using sodium amytal for “dental purposes” only COULD he resist the temptation to ask Jordan questions about his association with Michael Jackson?
A man like that? No, I think he absolutely couldn’t. Moreover it seems that the primary purpose of this drug was to draw some “dark secrets” from Jordan.
- DID he take special care to ask his questions in an neutral way not to suggest any ideas to his son while he was under sedation?
He didn’t. He surely asked as detailed and graphic questions as it was only possible and probably repeated them not just once. Even if it wasn’t his intention to plant false memories into Jordan’s mind the mere questioning about “who touched whose penis” and “how often they masturbated each other” was quite enough for the boy to remember those ideas and start fantasizing on his own.
- WHAT was the result Evan Chandler got?
And what other result could he get?
- WHY did he ask Jordan only one question after his son regained consciousness and why was it about his relationship with Michael?
Because this is all he was interested in and because it was the continuation of what he was asking Jordan under sedation. He didn’t wonder if he felt any pain after the procedure (which shows that the pretext of pulling a tooth was complete BS) – instead he checked up whether the boy remembered anything of what he had said to him under narcosis. He just made sure that the boy did remember it.
And this is all Evan wanted to know and do.
* * *
Here are a couple of videos on the disastrous results of applying ‘memory recovery’ techniques to some people’s minds. I never knew it could be that bad (OMG, what if Jordan is such a hopeless case?):
Here is the story of Meredith Maran, an award-winning journalist and author of several best-selling nonfiction books. She discusses her family’s devastation and ultimate redemption around her experience of false memory. Set against the backdrop of the sex-abuse scandals, beginning with the infamous McMartin preschool trial, Maran shares with incredible honesty, her unbelievable personal story.