May 21, 2019

ALL IN YOUR HEAD:

Was It an Invisible Attack on U.S. Diplomats, or Something Stranger? (DAN HURLEY, MAY 15, 2019. NY Times)

That month, DeLaurentis called a meeting of his senior staff to tell them what was going on. He insisted that they tell no one else -- not even their families -- which had the perverse effect of heightening the staff members' anxiety rather than calming it. Within days, DeLaurentis felt compelled to call an open meeting of the American staff. More than 60 people crammed into the Embassy's Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility -- an inner sanctum for confidential communications. They were told about the noises and the symptoms and were offered the opportunity to be tested if they had concerns. Nearly all of those present, as well as some family members, soon asked to be evaluated.

"There was a sense of hysteria and concern," said another government official who worked in Havana at the time. [...]

And yet, two and a half years after the first diplomats in Havana said they heard strange sounds and fell ill, and after at least six visits to Cuba by the F.B.I., the study by Penn researchers, another study led by the otolaryngologist at the University of Miami and a continuing investigation by a "health incidents response task force" organized by the State Department, the claims of an attack by an invisible weapon remain not only unproved but also highly contested by prominent physicists and engineers in the United States and abroad.

Dozens of leading neurologists, psychiatrists and psychologists, meanwhile, have offered an alternative narrative: that the diplomats' symptoms are primarily psychogenic -- or "functional" -- in nature. If true, it would mean that the symptoms were caused not by a secret high-tech weapon but by the same confluence of psychological and neurological processes -- entirely subconscious yet remarkably powerful -- underlying hypnosis and the placebo effect. They are disorders, in other words, not of the brain's hardware but of its software; not of objective injuries to the brain's structure but of chronic alterations to how the brain functions, typically following exposure to an illness, a physical injury or stress. 



Posted by at May 21, 2019 4:00 AM

  

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