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June 1955

Studies on Anxiety Associated with Anticipation of Pain ain: II. Comparative Effects of Pentobarbital and Morphine

Author Affiliations

Lexington, Ky.

From the National Institute of Mental Health, Addiction Research Center, U. S. Public Health Service Hospital.

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1955;73(6):602-608. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1955.02330120006002

Traditional thinking and practice favor the belief that the barbiturates are not effective as analgesics. Indeed, Goodman and Gilman1 have stated that they are likely to induce delirium if given under conditions of pain. Several investigators have mentioned the failure of barbiturates to elevate the pain threshold when measured by the Wolff-Hardy-Goodell technique,2 and such failure has also been reported when other techniques employing animal subjects were used.* Recently, however, Keats and Beecher have questioned this position in a publication which reports that pentobarbital, although not being as potent as morphine, relieved severe pain in 50% of postoperative patients.

Facilities are not available at this institution for direct clinical studies on the value of barbiturates as analgesics. However, we have approached the problem indirectly on the assumption, previously validated in the case of morphine, that one of the important mechanisms through which drugs exert analgesic action is by