Sex, lies and anesthesia

In October of 1991, Phil Donahue based an entire program on my article about erotic hallucinations in American Health magazine. He flew in my source from Belfast to appear in his studio. Donahue held up the magazine on camera and read essentially my entire article on the air, instantly reducing the value of my exclusive to zero. He didn’t even mention my name. I sent Donahue a note suggesting that he do a program on talk show hosts who rip off struggling freelance writers. Donahue never replied.


Sex, lies and anesthesia

Some female patients who press sexual-assault charges against their dentists or doctors may actually have delusions caused by anesthesia.

Recent research suggests that intravenous benzodiazepines — a class of drugs that includes Valium — can cause vivid sexual fantasies, particularly in women. These drugs are often administered, usually with no anesthesiologist present, during outpatient surgical procedures to achieve a semi-wakeful state.

Dr. John Dundee, a professor of anesthesiology at the Queen’s University of Belfast, in Northern Ireland, investigated 35 cases of sedation-induced hallucinations, 27 of which involved women. Most, he found, had a “disturbing sexual element” — usually breast or genital fondling, Yet Dundee maintains that in most cases sexual contact would not have occurred — because others were present or because the allegations were actually “physically impossible.”

Sexual hallucinations triggered by other anesthetics, such as nitrous oxide, are well-documented. “It could really happen with many anesthetics, depending on the circumstances,” says oral surgeon J. Theodore Jastak, of the Oregon Health Sciences University.

Dentists and doctors who have been falsely accused of sexual assault have lost licenses and even been imprisoned, Dundee says. “It’s been a horrible experience for these people.”

But Dr. Glen Gabbard, director of the Menninger Hospital in Topeka, Kan., contends that sexual exploitation of patients is “a very common phenomenon” and that the number of false accusations is “infinitely small” compared with cases of real abuse. He’s concerned that reports of sedation-induced fantasies “could be used as an excuse to say exploitation isn’t really a problem.”

The best defense for both the physician and the sedated patient, says Gabbard, is to make sure a third person is present during the entire procedure.

American Health 10/91


3 Responses to “Sex, lies and anesthesia”

  1. Gaylon says:

    I use to think Dr Phil was a great guy and his main goal was to help people. Wrong the main person he tries to help is to enrich himself. I am not surprised he did not contact you or give you any credit.


  2. Doctor Watchdog says:

    Why is is that sexual hallucinations are reported mainly by women?

  3. oliver says:

    @Dr. Watchdog

    One reason it is women reporting is because they don’t know they were hallucinating. They thought it was really something that happened. Have
    you ever heard of false memories based on dreams that a person has had?
    Our minds do fascinatingly weird things that sometimes just whiz over our

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