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© 2020

Havana Syndrome

Mass Psychogenic Illness and the Real Story Behind the Embassy Mystery and Hysteria

Book

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 1-20
  3. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 21-42
  4. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 43-57
  5. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 59-70
  6. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 71-94
  7. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 95-106
  8. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 107-127
  9. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 151-166
  10. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 167-177
  11. Robert W. Baloh, Robert E. Bartholomew
    Pages 179-189
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 191-194

About this book

Introduction

It is one of the most extraordinary cases in the history of science:  the mating calls of insects were mistaken for a “sonic weapon” that led to a major diplomatic row.  Since August 2017, the world media has been absorbed in the “attack” on diplomats from the American and Canadian Embassies in Cuba.  While physicians treating victims have described it as a novel and perplexing condition that involves an array of complaints including brain damage, the authors present compelling evidence that mass psychogenic illness was the cause of “Havana Syndrome.” This mysterious condition that has baffled experts is explored across 11-chapters which offer insights by a prominent neurologist and an expert on psychogenic illness.  A lively and enthralling read, the authors explore the history of similar scares from the 18th century belief that sounds from certain musical instruments were harmful to human health, to 19th century cases of “telephone shock,” and more contemporary panics involving people living near wind turbines that have been tied to a variety of health complaints.  The authors provide dozens of examples of kindred episodes of mass hysteria throughout history, in addition to psychosomatic conditions and even the role of insects in triggering outbreaks. 

Havana Syndrome: Mass Psychogenic Illness and the Real Story Behind the Embassy Mystery and Hysteria is a scientific detective story and a case study in the social construction of mass psychogenic illness.


Keywords

Mass psychogenic illness Mystery Illness Phantom Assailants Havana Cuba United States Embassy Acoustic weapon Sonic weapon

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Neurology and Head and Neck SurgeryDavid Geffen School of Medicine at UCLALos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.Psychological MedicineUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

About the authors

Robert W. Baloh, MD is a distinguished professor of Neurology and Head and Neck Surgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA. Author of 11 books and over 300 articles in peer-reviewed science journals, he is a pioneer in the study of the vestibular system: the part of the inner ear which helps people to maintain their sense of balance and spatial awareness. He has developed tests of vestibular function that are used by inner ear specialists around the world.

Robert E. Bartholomew, PhD is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland. He completed a doctorate in Medical Sociology from James Cook University in Australia and his Master’s in Sociology from the State University of New York at Albany. He has published in over 60 peer-reviewed journals, has been featured in a National Geographic series on modern myths and has appeared on The History and Discovery Channels. A Fellow with the Center for Inquiry in Amherst, New York, he teaches History at Botany College in Auckland.


Bibliographic information

Reviews

“This is a brilliant exposition of how social panics evolve and escalate; every fortean should read it.” (Nigel Watson, Fortean Times, forteantimes.com, August 26, 2020)

“This could be a textbook for medical history teaching, sociological analysis, communication studies, and many other fields of academic research. … This is much more than a book of medical history; it is a deep and solid analysis of the contemporary power of systems of mass information and their impact on individuals with the amplification resulting from quantity.” (Alain Touwaide, Doody's Book Reviews, July 17, 2020)