Normal Topic Anxiety Disorders (Read 22529 times)
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Anxiety Disorders
Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:19pm
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I had a question about anxiety and polygraph testing. When I took my polygraph they asked if I was on any medication which I was not. I assume they do this before every polygraph test.

So, my questions are  ???
1. What if you have an anxiety disorder (panic attacks, generalized anxiety, things like that) that you are on medication for? Do they require you to go off your medication or are you just not allowed to take the test?

2. What if you have an anxiety disorder and are not on medication? Should you tell them since racing heart, breathing, sweating, etc. will obviously make it appear you're lying.

I have anxiety and have had two panic attacks in the past but am not on any medication (I don't need to be as I am controlling it through exercise, diet, vitamins). I was just curious about what would happen should I need to take another polygraph for a job.

Thank you for any thoughts on the matter.
  
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Paste Member Name in Quick Reply Box George W. Maschke
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #1 - Dec 3rd, 2005 at 11:38pm
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As Dr. Alan Zelicoff, M.D. has pointed out, "there are no guidelines, textbook chapters, or review articles in any medical, psychology or psychiatry journal that describe medical contra-indications to the polygraph."

To answer your questions:

1) Polygraphers will happily polygraph just about anyone with an arm and a pulse. If you are taking a prescription medecine for anxiety, a polygrapher will no doubt tell you to keep on taking it, and will proceed with the polygraph as if you had no anxiety disorder.

2) If you should ever need to take a polygraph for a job, you should educate yourself about polygraphy beforehand. Polygraph "testing" has not been proven to reliably detect deception at better than chance levels of accuracy in people without a serious medical condition, let alone those who do. You'll find an expose of polygraphy along with tips on how to reduce the risk of a false positive outcome in The Lie Behind the Lie Detector.
  

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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #2 - Dec 4th, 2005 at 11:53pm
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Thanks for the link to Dr. Zelicoff's article.

That just seems so ludicrous to me. The more I read about polygraph testing the crazier it gets. From the reading I've done I realize it's a gamble whether you'll pass or not. However, my thinking is that anxiety and medication would increase or decrease your chances.

For example, if someone has anxiety and is not on medication  he/she could flunk the test despite telling the truth.

Or, if someone has anxiety and is not on medication  he/she could lie and pass the test due to the medication relaxing them.

I wonder if there are criminals out there that have passed due to being on anti-anxiety medication. I'm sure there are individuals with anxiety disorders that have flunked due purely to the anxiety.



  
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #3 - Dec 7th, 2005 at 10:01pm
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This is a very nasty area. Apart from countermeasures, psychological and phsiological conditions/treatments can alter autonomic reactions. In reviewing recent literature, there are conditions (everything else being the same) which enhance the polygraph response as well as those that  interfere with a "valid" response. The conditions/treatments of most interest are those that  generate false-positives ("failing" an otherwise innocent person) and false-negatives (possibly allowing a terrorist through).

If the polygraph is only being used as an "excuse" to frighten weak minds into a confession, then the authorities don't really care about any medical conditions because accuracy doesn't count at all.  When an attempt is being made to use the polygraph "responsibly" as an investigative tool - treatments and illness matter, for example:

"Sec.  709.5  Waiver of polygraph examination requirements., (a) General. The CI-scope polygraph examination requirement under Sec.  709.3 of this part does not apply to:
...
(2) Any individual who is being treated for a medical or
psychological condition that, based upon consultation with the  individual and appropriate medical personnel, the Secretary or the  Director of the Office of Counterintelligence determines would preclude  the individual from being tested;...",Federal Register: January 7, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 5) Proposed Rules, Page 1383-1396,DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY,10 CFR Parts 709 and 710,...Counterintelligence Evaluation Regulations, http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2005/01/doe010705.html

"3.4 Polygraph Examinee
3.4.1 The examiner shall make reasonable efforts to determine that the examinee is a fit subject for testing, where allowed by law. Basic inquiries into the medical and psychological condition of the examinee as well as any recent drug use should be made where allowed by law. Mental, physical or medical conditions of the examinee that should be observable to, or that should be reasonably known by the examiner, should also be evaluation prior to testing. No test should be conducted where valid results could not be reasonably foreseen.
3.4.2 During the pretest interview, where allowed by law, the examiner will specifically inquire of the person to be examined whether or not he or she is currently receiving or has in the past received medical or psychiatric treatment or consultation.
3.4.3 If an examiner has a reasonable doubt concerning the ability of an examinee to safely undergo an examination, a release from the examinee and his or her physician shall be obtained.", American Polygraph Association, Standards of Practice, http://www.polygraph.org/standards.htm

“In those instances when the examinee is undergoing treatment by a medical or mental health professional, coordination with the attending medical or mental health professional is essential to evaluate the examinee’s overall suitability and to obtain medical clearance to conduct PDD testing. This form of coordination is also necessary to ensure that PDD testing does not interfere with ongoing treatment efforts and to prevent PDD testing of an otherwise unsuitable examinee.
Psychological Suitability: Polygraph testing of an examinee receiving current, on-going treatment and/or prescribed medication by mental health professionals (psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health counselors or other mental health professionals) shall be discontinued or postponed until the examinee’s attending mental health professional declares the individual suitable for PDD testing. Verbal authorization from the attending mental health professional is permitted, but should be the exception and not the rule. In instances where the examinee cites mental health related illnesses associated with severe depression or other severe illnesses, written authorization from the attending mental health professional is mandatory. Any questions concerning an examinee’s psychological suitability for PDD testing must be addressed with the attending mental health professional and/or a CRC supervisor prior to PDD testing.
Physiological Suitability: Polygraph testing of an examinee being treated and/or prescribed medication by medical professionals (doctors, physician assistants, nurses, or other medical specialist) for significant injuries or illnesses shall be postponed until the examinee’s attending medical professional declares the individual suitable for PDD testing. Verbal authorization from the attending medical health professional is permitted, but should be the exception and not the rule. In instances where the examinee cites severe medical illnesses, written authorization from the attending medical professional is mandatory. Any questions concerning an examinee’s physiological suitability for PDD testing must be addressed with the attending medical professional and/or a CRC supervisor prior to PDD testing.”, FORENSIC PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGICAL DETECTION OF DECEPTION(PDD) POLICY AND PROCEDURE MANUAL, Section 8.12 Examinee Suitability,  UNITED STATES ARMY CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION COMMAND, Effective 21 February 2005

"Other Psychopathology
Guilty psychopaths may escape detection because they are not concerned enough about a misdeed to create interpretable physiological responses. Individuals with other forms of psychopathology may escape detection or be classified as false positives for other reasons (e.g., emotional instability, delusional thinking). The one study that has investigated this possibility (74) found, in fact, that innocent neurotics and particularly psychotics were likely to be identified as deceptive. There were no guilty subjects in this “real crime" analog study.",Scientific Validity of Polygraph Testing: A Research Review and Evaluation - A Technical Memorandum, U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment , Washington D.C., OTA-TM-H-15, November 1983 – Chapter 6 Factors Affecting Polygraph Examination Validity - Other Psychopathology

etc...

  
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #4 - Jan 4th, 2006 at 9:44pm
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I have social anxiety and underwent polygraph testing with the CIA. They had my entire medical background, and I specifically called them beforehand to ensure that it was okay to take both Inderal and Klonipin during the polygraph exam (which I take for performance anxiety... interviews/speeches/etc.). They assured me it was not a problem. I found that surprising since Inderal is a blood pressue medication that prevents your heart from racing. (As others have said... probably because they realize it's more about stress and intimidation than the actual readings...) In any case, I never really "passed" the polygraph to their satisfaction (took it 4 times), but was eventually offered a position. The whole experience was horrible enough, however, that I quickly left that job and have begun a new career outside of the government.
  
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #5 - Jan 5th, 2006 at 10:29pm
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I am not an attorney so I can't give any legal advice, I think the following information would be useful to anyone with psychological disorders applying to one of the agencies that screen with the polygraph.

Personnel Security Standards and Procedures Governing Eligibility for Access to Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI), DCID 6/4: section 4.a, section 7.e, Annex A - Section 13.o , supports that an agency can require you to take a polygraph as part of a background investigation for TS/SCI even though it's not a requirement from the DCI for  TS/SCI. (this should now be the DNI). Even then using it for screening purposes is unethical and a violation of executive orders, because the guidelines that allow them to use the polygraph also state that a person must be adjudicated based on a "whole person" concept(Annex B - Section 2,  Annex C - Section B.1 ).

The one escape clause is that if an agency discovers during the course of its investigation that you have some massive security related defect then they can terminate  your processing (Annex C, Section B.4).

However, in the case of someone with a psychological disability such as anxiety disorder,  that causes them to have a greater than average chance of "failing" a polygraph, it would be illegal discrimination under the ADA (read rehabilitation act of 1973 for Federal agencies) to use the results of the polygraph as a screen no matter what the results are.

That's because unless the ability to "pass" a polygraph is related to the duties of the position (e.g. you are a tester for polygraph machines), a disabled person cannot be screened out on the basis of a polygraph test or any other test unrelated to job duties.

Agencies can get out of this requirement if they can show that compliance with the law would be undo hardship. Based on the small number of cases that would actually have to be fully adjudicated and the current trouble this administration is already having due to the Patriot Act, it would seem impolitic to publicly deny the disabled equal opportunity in an election year.
  
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #6 - Jan 10th, 2006 at 10:33am
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I took a polygraph, at my lawyer's suggestion, back in 2002.  I did not pass, but was not subjected to as much BS as many of you have been here since the guy we picked was, well, working for us.  (For the record, I was nervous as hell and had not read TLBTLD, but was truthful.)

I have an anxiety disorder coupled with depression, and I take Paxil, Klonopin, and desipramine together (back then, I did not take take desipramine).  I asked the examiner, and he said it didn't matter to him.  But since I have learned this stuff is a fraud anyhow, why should they care?

BTW, the results of my first poly made no difference in the resolution of my case, which was a criminal matter.  Just for the record, I'm not posting or hating on the poly for any reason other than what this site has shown me and what I have to go through with it now post-sentence.  That makes me even more nervous...
  

I think polygraphers escaped among the evils of Pandora's box, which might have been an old analog polygraph... only God can tell whether you're lying or not, and He's got other things on His plate...
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #7 - Feb 8th, 2006 at 4:15am
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  Its very comforting to know I'm not the only one with an anxiety disorder.  I have obsessive compulsive anxiety disorder. Basically I look for something to stress about, until I deal with it.  I take lexapro.  Anyway I took a test a couple of months ago an got an inconclusive.  So I retook the test recently and again got an inconclusive. 
  I didn't lie and didn't use CMs.  The polygrapher believes its the medication.  I'm now waiting to see how my p.o. deals with it.  What are my rights?  Should I be scared of some kind of punishment or restrictions due to a medical condition.  I should note I have passed every previouse test before starting medication.
  
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #8 - Apr 23rd, 2018 at 3:47pm
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I have nervous tics and twitches that act up the most when I am under stress. My husband wants me to take a polygraph with questions about my infidelity. I have told him everything and all the truth but I still fear I will fail. I have nothing more I can disclose so I don't know what to do if I fail.  Does anyone know if nervous tics and twitches interfere with Polygraphs?
Thanks
  
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #9 - May 24th, 2018 at 5:19pm
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #10 - Mar 8th, 2019 at 2:13am
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I suffer from severe depression,  ptsd,  generalized anxiety and so severe of social anxiety disorder i cant leave my home without having a attack.  I am taking zoloft hydroxine and remeron to treat.  I just recently had a polygraph dont one me.  I failed.  I only had 3 hours of sleep and was rushed to do it.  I was also offered a red bull before my test i did not take it.  My attack last from hours to days.  Could my severe social anxiety have caused me to fail. Since i was all the way across the country when the test was administratered.
  
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Re: Anxiety Disorders
Reply #11 - Mar 8th, 2019 at 9:27am
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Sarah,

As I noted above, polygraph "testing" has not been proven to reliably detect lies at better than chance levels of accuracy in people without a serious medical condition, let alone those who do.

It's certainly possible that your anxiety contributed to your failing the polygraph, but trying to determine why one failed an invalid procedure such as a polygraph "test" is akin to trying to determine why a coin toss came out heads instead of tails.
  

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Anxiety Disorders

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