Burundanga: The Drug Against Free Will

BurandangaIt turns out that ‘free will’ is a brain process that can be shut off. Wired UK explores the plant-derived drug — currently all the rage in the South American criminal underworld — that does this:

Burundanga is a scary drug. According to news reports from Ecuador, the last thing a motorist could recall, after waking up minus his car and possessions, was being approached by two women; in Venezuela, a girl came round in hospital to find she had been abducted and sexually assaulted. Each had been doped with burundanga, an extract of the brugmansia plant containing high levels of the psychoactive chemical scopolamine.

News reports allude to a sinister effect: that the drug removes free will, effectively turning victims into suggestible human puppets. Although not fully understood by neuroscience, free will is seen as a highly complex neurological ability and one of the most cherished of human characteristics. Clearly, if a drug can eliminate this, it highlights a stark vulnerability at the core of our species.

It is known that scopolamine affects memory and makes people more passive. Neuroscientist Renate Thienel notes that “scopolamine has a selective effect on memory, although other mental functions, such as planning and information manipulation, are unaffected.” This suggests victims remain cognitively nimble but unable to retain information.

The key seems to be that scopolamine blocks acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter essential to memory. Scans also reveal the drug affects the amygdala, a brain area controlling aggression and anxiety. Evidence suggests victims tend to be confused and passive rather than unable to resist commands. Yet, until scopolamine’s role in the chemistry of free will is fully explored, we can only speculate that the criminal underworld has unwittingly stumbled upon one of the greatest discoveries of 21st-century neuroscience.

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  • Hune Ceaulage

    WHOO20!

  • Hune Ceaulage

    WHOO20!

  • Zags674

    This is an asshole non-story. Scopolamine has been used as the so-called “truth serum” since at least the ’40’s. The CIA abandoned it because it turns the person into a zombie who doesn’t care about the truth one way or another. Scopolamine is the active ingredient in all the deliriant plants such as belladona and henbane and jimson weed. It can really fuck you up. But it’s not new at all. Neither is drugging people into a stupor. 

    • Omshanthi_paul

      agree it’s a useless story, and the only amnesia medical uses is birth delivery when mixed with analgesics, otherwise this anti-motion-sickness, plant-derived med is far from a 21st century wonder. That last line is embarrassing, DisInfo!

    • Marlowe

      Very well stated. Don’t believe? Read Raymound Chandler. 

    • Grooveboss

      soon to be given at work places all over america. Bella donna was also use to make pupils dilate in victorian era to make eyes look cuter 

  • Zags674

    This is an asshole non-story. Scopolamine has been used as the so-called “truth serum” since at least the ’40’s. The CIA abandoned it because it turns the person into a zombie who doesn’t care about the truth one way or another. Scopolamine is the active ingredient in all the deliriant plants such as belladona and henbane and jimson weed. It can really fuck you up. But it’s not new at all. Neither is drugging people into a stupor. 

  • Zags674

    This is an asshole non-story. Scopolamine has been used as the so-called “truth serum” since at least the ’40’s. The CIA abandoned it because it turns the person into a zombie who doesn’t care about the truth one way or another. Scopolamine is the active ingredient in all the deliriant plants such as belladona and henbane and jimson weed. It can really fuck you up. But it’s not new at all. Neither is drugging people into a stupor. 

  • cosmicserpent

    Sounds like any strong psychedelic I’ve heard of

    • NotReal

      heard of?  if you had any experience with psychedelics, none of them do anything resembling ‘burundanga’.  the only similarity might be taking so much of either that you pass out.

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like any strong psychedelic I’ve heard of

  • Anonymous

    Sounds like any strong psychedelic I’ve heard of

  • http://www.facebook.com/outrider420 Erika Whiteway

    …agree with y’all…but you know the ol’ hack’s expression, “a day without a scary drug story is a day without hysteria” and thus the media machine grinds on.

  • http://www.facebook.com/outrider420 Erika Whiteway

    …agree with y’all…but you know the ol’ hack’s expression, “a day without a scary drug story is a day without hysteria” and thus the media machine grinds on.

  • Tee-Hee

    Bababoey

  • Omshanthi_paul

    agree it’s a useless story, and the only amnesia medical uses is birth delivery when mixed with analgesics, otherwise this anti-motion-sickness, plant-derived med is far from a 21st century wonder. That last line is embarrassing, DisInfo!

  • Omshanthi_paul

    agree it’s a useless story, and the only amnesia medical uses is birth delivery when mixed with analgesics, otherwise this anti-motion-sickness, plant-derived med is far from a 21st century wonder. That last line is embarrassing, DisInfo!

  • NotReal

    heard of?  if you had any experience with psychedelics, none of them do anything resembling ‘burundanga’.  the only similarity might be taking so much of either that you pass out.

  • Marlowe

    Very well stated. Don’t believe? Read Raymound Chandler. 

  • Anonymous

    Zags is completely right. This has been used in South America for centuries to turn people into real life zombies (including burying them alive and convincing them and their families that they’re dead). I’ve never really heard about the effects wearing off though: they must have had a small dose compared to what is usually given the victim. As I understood it, once they went through the drugging complete with ritual the ‘zombified’ person never recovered their previous mental capacity. Then again, people used as toys and slaves for others never tend to have a particularly long lifespan. I wouldn’t go as far as to say this article is pointless (especially since this stuff actually exists and is used on people), but it is definitely leaning toward the tasteless glorification of fear and power.

  • $1909711

    Zags is completely right: This has been used in South America for centuries to turn people into real life zombies (including burying them alive and convincing them and their families that they’re dead). I’ve never really heard about the effects wearing off, though–they must have had a small dose compared to what is usually given the victim. As I understood it, once they went through the drugging–complete with ritual–the ‘zombified’ person never recovered their previous mental capacity. Then again, people used as toys and slaves for others hardly ever tend to have a particularly long lifespan.
    I wouldn’t go as far as to say this article is pointless (especially since this stuff actually exists and is used on people), but it is definitely leaning toward the tasteless glorification of fear and power.

  • Ryan Lee Mckenna

    Come on, free will is an illusion. We’re all controlled by our environment, internal and external.

    • $1909711

      Alright. But probability is not an illusion, and given that there is a vast array of probabilities and possibilities for any person at any given moment (especially concerning moments of choice), I would say free will is most definitely real, though it is forced to operate under the parameters of physical and chemical laws. 

  • Ryan Lee Mckenna

    Come on, free will is an illusion. We’re all controlled by our environment, internal and external.

  • Grooveboss

    soon to be given at work places all over america. Bella donna was also use to make pupils dilate in victorian era to make eyes look cuter 

  • justagirl

    burunda-crunch cereal.  cuz bitches be having ideas.

  • justagirl

    burunda-crunch cereal.  cuz bitches be having ideas.

  • Anonymous

    Alright. But probability is not an illusion, and given that there is a vast array of probabilities and possibilities for any person at any given moment (especially concerning moments of choice), I would say free will is most definitely real, though it is forced to operate under the parameters of physical and chemical laws. 

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