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May 1951


Author Affiliations


From the Research Division, United States Public Health Hospital, Lexington, Ky. (National Institute of Mental Health), and the University of Kentucky.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1951;65(5):557-567. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1951.02320050014002

THE PURPOSE of this paper is to present studies of the changes in performance in a number of psychological tests by human subjects who were experimentally addicted to barbiturates. The clinical, biochemical and physiological findings of this experiment have been reported by Isbell and associates.1 These investigators used five former morphine addicts who volunteered for the experiment. The subjects received secobarbital sodium (seconal®), amobarbital sodium (amytal®) and pentobarbital sodium (nembutal®) orally for periods of 92 to 144 days. The doses employed were sufficiently large to induce mild to severe intoxication continuously. The results indicated that chronic barbiturism was similar to chronic alcoholism. The effects of the same dose of the drug varied greatly from day to day in the same subject, and striking differences were found between subjects. After abrupt withdrawal of barbiturates, definite abstinence phenomena— anxiety, anorexia, nausea and vomiting, convulsions of a grand mal type and psychosis