What could have caused the mysterious illness that afflicted hundreds of American diplomats? Analysts have blamed everything from noisy bugs to sonic weapons, but the situation may be psychological in nature.

It’s fine? Let’s see together.

In December 2021, a former FBI agent who previously served in Guangzhou, China, took legal action against the US government. The agent claimed that the US State Department did not take the situation seriously enough. when he and his family started experiencing sudden headaches, dizziness, nosebleeds, memory loss and nausea in Guangzhou a few years ago.

Legend has it that the first case was detected in 2021, the last in which dozens of US agents and staff from the US Embassy in Cuba began to describe similar neurological symptoms, in most cases a creepy voice or hoarseness and atypical facial pain, often with neuropsychiatric causes.

Depending on who you ask, the meaning of the resulting symptoms will vary. According to some experts, the incident, which has so far affected more than 200 US troops not only in Cuba and China, but also in Germany, Austria, Russia, and Serbia, may have been caused by a malicious microwave-based or sonic weapon. developed by the Russians. But the other assumption to be made is that this situation is a classic example of mass psychological illness. This situation is based on several reasons; He calls it the ‘Havana Syndrome’.

The Russians deny having or using an acoustic weapon that can target the brain.

However, in 2020, the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published a detailed scientific study concluding that many of the “distinctive and acute signs, symptoms, and observations” identified by US personnel. US were “directed pulsed radio frequency energy.” The “consistent with effects” report has been published. And in November 2021, the FBI finally issued an official warning to the media about what it calls ‘Abnormal Health Events’ for its employees.

Still, there are reasons to be skeptical of the weapons-based theory. Security experts commented that Russia is unlikely to develop any as-yet-unidentified technology without Western knowledge. Neurology experts noted that it is unreasonable for a sonic device to selectively target the brain.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley have determined that recordings of loud noises heard in Cuba (and blamed for symptoms) are likely the mating call of a Caribbean short-tailed cricket from the Indies. . And in 2018, a group of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania reported that the results of brain scans they performed on 21 former staff members in Cuba who experienced neurological symptoms showed no significant abnormalities.

When physical symptoms occur in the absence of any identifiable physical cause, such as a virus, and particularly when symptoms show signs of contagion, they first appear in one person, then appear in others with whom they are in close contact, and then appear in others. with whom they are in close contact, then there is a plausible explanation: massive psychonegic illness. This means that the ultimate cause of illness is people’s beliefs; these beliefs then ‘infect’ others, which can lead to a massive epidemic. Arguably, some experts argue that this is the most likely cause of Havana Syndrome.

For a mass psychogenic illness to be defined as a “psychogenic illness”, it must have several essential components. The first is the appearance of a set of similar health symptoms in a group of people who are in close contact. The second component is that it usually occurs in the context of intense stress or anxiety. And finally, there must be no known ongoing organic cause, such as viruses, bacteria, poisons, or state-of-the-art sonic weapons, to be confirmed as psychogenic.

What is noteworthy is that the person who started a psychogenic epidemic may have a physical illness, but to meet the criteria for massive psychological illness, those subsequently affected must have been exposed to the idea of ​​the symptoms only, not the physical cause.

At the center of this phenomenon is the ‘nocebo effect’, which we could call ‘belief in the harmful effect’, which is the brother of the ‘placebo effect’. In this case, the belief that something is simply harmful can cause really unpleasant symptoms, just like positive beliefs about a placebo pill. It can provide real medical benefits. This word ‘truth’ is important. The fact that the causes of a syndrome are psychological does not mean that the pain and its symptoms are unreal.


There are numerous confirmed cases of mass psychogenic illness in the medical literature. This is just one of these interesting cases: imagine that you are at school and suddenly an increasing number of your classmates feel strange fear and intense nausea. As fears grow, you start to feel discomfort in your stomach and you get sick without realizing it.

It’s hard to believe that this is all psychological and not some kind of gas or chemical leak. Yet that is exactly what happened in 2006, when more than 30 students and teachers suddenly fell ill at a South Yorkshire school. No leaks were found and these students were hospitalized. All were discharged within a few hours.

It is currently not possible to know with certainty whether Havana Syndrome is an example of a collective psychogenic illness, but the findings fit some or all of the criteria. Most affected agents work in stressful and dangerous environments. They were in close contact with each other. They were exposed to the idea of ​​the symptoms and the fear that they too might be affected. In the apparent absence of any physical explanation, and with the sonic weapon being purely theoretical and untested at this point, a psychological reason seems plausible.

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