10

So I was browsing FB and someone in the comment section of a page asked this question

If a person is under an Imperius Curse and is given Veritaserum and then the one using the Imperius Curse on them orders them to lie, would they be able to do It?

This really intrigued me. Can Veritaserum negate the effect of the Imperius Curse and force the user to tell the truth when they are ordered to lie?

If this question has been asked before please let me know and I'll delete this question.

P.S. this is the post where I got this question.

  • 3
    My guess is if you want to hear the truth you'll have to dose the guy who cast the imperius. – user68762 Aug 24 '17 at 8:03
  • 7
    It's possible to resist veritaserum in the same way you can resist a muggle polygraph, and more importantly, veritaserum only forces the drinker to tell what they believe to be true, which, while under the effects of the imperius curse, is probably whatever the caster wants it to be. So I think that veritaserum would have no effect whatsoever. – DisturbedNeo Aug 24 '17 at 8:37
  • You end up with Jim Carrey in the bathroom in Liar, Liar.... – Skooba Aug 24 '17 at 15:51
5

We don't know, and there's nothing that gives us an indication.

I've searched all the books, and not only does this not happen anywhere in the books, there aren't any situations that even give us a clue what might happen in this case. Presuming that the person is unable to resist both Veritaserum and the Imperius Curse, which is likely enough as an insufficiently strong-willed person couldn't fight the effects of either, there's no way to know which one would "win" based on information we have rather than just speculation.

For example, the Thief's Downfall washes away enchantments, including both a fairly complex potion (Polyjuice Potion) and the Imperius Curse.

“The Thief’s Downfall!’ said Griphook, clambering to his feet and looking back at the deluge on to the tracks, which Harry knew, now, had been more than water. ‘It washes away all enchantment, all magical concealment! They know there are impostors in Gringotts, they have set off defences against us!’ Harry saw Hermione checking that she still had the beaded bag, and hurriedly thrust his own hand under his jacket to make sure he had not lost the Invisibility Cloak. Then he turned to see Bogrod shaking his head in bewilderment: the Thief’s Downfall seemed to have lifted the Imperius Curse.”

However, this doesn't give any indication what would happen if someone was given Veritaserum and then Imperiused to lie.

It's also not a reasonable assumption that whichever was used last would just "cancel out" the first one. Some magic is strong enough to resist other magic being used against it, and we don't know how powerful Veritaserum is compared to the Imperius Curse.

The Imperius Curse is powerful...

“Total control,’ said Moody quietly, as the spider balled itself up and began to roll over and over. ‘I could make it jump out of the window, drown itself, throw itself down one of your throats …”

Yet it can be resisted:

“The Imperius Curse can be fought, and I’ll be teaching you how, but it takes real strength of character, and not everyone’s got it. Better avoid being hit with it if you can. CONSTANT VIGILANCE!’ he barked, and everyone jumped.”

Veritaserum is also powerful:

“No,’ said Harry, completely honestly this time. ‘It is Veritaserum – a Truth Potion so powerful that three drops would have you spilling your innermost secrets for this entire class to hear,’ said Snape viciously. ‘Now, the use of this Potion is controlled by very strict Ministry guidelines. But unless you watch your step, you might just find that my hand slips –’ he shook the crystal bottle slightly ‘– right over your evening pumpkin juice. And then, Potter … then we’ll find out whether you’ve been in my office or not.” - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Chapter 27 (Padfoot Returns)

There's no mention of Veritaserum being resisted in the books, so it might have an edge over the Imperius Curse.


However, in JKR's FAQ, she says that Veritaserum can be resisted as well, so if you consider non-book information canon, then they're pretty much equal again.

Veritaserum works best upon the unsuspecting, the vulnerable and those insufficiently skilled (in one way or another) to protect themselves against it. Barty Crouch had been attacked before the potion was given to him and was still very groggy, otherwise he could have employed a range of measures against the Potion - he might have sealed his own throat and faked a declaration of innocence, transformed the Potion into something else before it touched his lips, or employed Occlumency against its effects. In other words, just like every other kind of magic within the books, Veritaserum is not infallible. As some wizards can prevent themselves being affected, and others cannot, it is an unfair and unreliable tool to use at a trial.

4

Obviously, as there is no situation in canon where a character is under similar circumstances, any attempt to answer this question is mainly speculation.

With this in mind, we can try to check what happens in the HP universe when two opposite spells confront, for example, during a wizard's duel or during direct confrontation.

Often in the books, when opposite spells conflict, the one cast by the wizard with the most skill tends to prevail. We see it several times when during a duel two wizards try to affect or disarm a foe. We can suppose, however, that this is more a matter of casting speed or "aiming" than a true measure of power.

In other similar situations, for example when Dumbledore and Voldemort fight, we see how their consecutive spells tend to fight or cancel the previous one from their opponent. So we can speculate that with similar power levels, opposite spells mutually cancel each other.

Based on that premise, I suppose that is reasonable to say that if the wizard that made the potion is significantly more powerful than the one casting the imperius curse, the power of the potion will prevail, and vice versa, while if both are of a similar power level, probably both will be cancelled, allowing the affected person to answer freely with the truth or a lie.

0

I would say that they would fail to lie, for the same reason if I told someone I had under the imperius curse to run through a wall, they would fail to do it (even if they attempt it).

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