nitrous oxide hallucination
- Nitrous oxide is also known as dinitrogen oxide (N2O) and laughing gas. All three names refer to a colourless, nonflammable gas that is widely used in biomedicine and dentistry for its anaesthetic effects. The term nitrous oxide hallucination is used to denote a hallucination experienced under the influence of nitrous oxide or nitrous oxide-oxygen. As these hallucinations have been described as being predominantly sexual in nature, and most prevalent in young women, it has been suggested that the notion of nitrous oxide hallucination is actually a smoke screen designed to protect health professionals guilty of sexual harassment. Critics of the hypothesis that nitrous oxide can evoke * sexual hallucinations point out that the almost exclusive occurrence of such hallucinations in young females is inexplicable in scientific terms. Moreover, they point out that scientifically sound case reports are extremely rare, whereas numerous well-documented cases exist of dentists and other health professionals hiding behind the myth of the nitrous oxide hallucination, even after having been found guilty of sexual assault by a court of law. Proponents of the nitrous oxide hypothesis do not deny that nitrous oxide can be misused by health professionals for non-professional purposes, but they appeal to casuistic material concerning the occurrence of sexual aberrations reported by females under nitrous oxide sedation to substantiate their hypothesis. Understandably, the stakes in this sensitive issue are high for health professionals working with nitrous oxide, as well as for the women under their care.ReferencesBennett, C.R. (1980). Nitrous oxide "hallucinations". Journal of the American Dental Association, 101, 595-597.Jastak, J.T., Paravecchio, R. (1975). An analysis of 1,331 sedations using inhalation, intravenous, or other techniques. Journal of the American Dental Association, 91, 1242-1249.Steinberg, H. (1956). Abnormal behavior induced by nitrous oxide. British journal of Psychiatry, 47, 183-194.
Dictionary of Hallucinations. J.D. Blom. 2010.
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