The Havana Syndrome that affects US officials and agents: Real disease or mass hysteria?

The Havana Syndrome that affects US officials and agents: Real disease or mass hysteria?

Five years ago, in 2016, diplomats working at the Embassy of United States in Cuba began to show unusual symptoms of poor health. Their families also began to experience them.

Headaches and ringing in the ears followed by deafness, dizziness and a feeling of vertigo were found to be the product of “inexplicable” brain injuries.

What was happening? Unable to explain the causes, these symptoms were called Havana Syndrome.

But those who suffer from these ailments did not necessarily live in the Cuban capital. According to Business Insider, the staff who worked “mainly in Russia, China and Cuba have experienced the same mysterious problems”.

And now, according to the BBC, the syndrome has reached Vienna, Austria: “According to Washington, since President Joe Biden took office in January, more than 20 US officials in Vienna have exhibited symptoms similar to those that originally occurred in Havana.”.

And the numbers keep increasing. Radio Caracol notes that “up to 200 Americans” who workon all continents of the world except Antarctica” present these problems.

The media notes: “Many reported hearing a loud sound and feeling pressure on the head, and later experienced dizziness, unsteadiness when walking, and visual disturbances. Several suffered long-lasting debilitating effects”.

A possible origin

According to Business Insider, since the number of reports of Havana Syndrome cases increased, the government of Joe Biden decided to investigate its origin.

But nevertheless, “many think they have been ignored”. In fact, about 100 CIA agents and their families are among the 200 US officers and relatives affected by this syndrome, according to the intelligence agency’s director, William Burns, on Thursday 22nd.

View of the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba
View of the United States Embassy in Havana, Cuba

Business Insider tells that, earlier this year, 21 officials suffering from the syndrome complained to the State Department, claiming that they had “denied proper medical care and that his evidence had been shelved”.

The same medium counts:

A study of some of those early cases presented a typical pattern for Havana syndrome: Most patients reported a variety of symptoms including balance problems, visual impairment, tinnitus, trouble sleeping, headaches, and trouble thinking. or remember.

And adds:

The researchers concluded that the patients had experienced brain injuries consistent with head trauma.


Regarding the origin of the Havana Syndrome, it has been said that it may be “caused by directed microwave radiation”.

For more than two decades during the Cold War, the then Soviet Union microwaved the American embassy in Moscow.” Notes the BBC.

In fact, the US “accused To Cuba” of “sonic attacks”, but Havana denied it, calling the theory exaggerated, since, to do harm, it would be necessary to exceed 130 decibels, a deafening sound for all the neighbors.

Business Insider reports that in 2019, it was suggested that “low levels of pesticides poisonous to humans could explain the symptoms”.

The medium adds another theory: “But others question whether the Havana Syndrome is really a syndrome. Some experts believe that it can be attributed to a massive psychogenic illness, a phenomenon in which a group of people get sick at the same time, even though there is no physical or environmental cause”.

And he explains: “This is also known as mass hysteria. Previous studies have shown that an intense fear of getting sick can lead to visible and measurable symptoms.

Ben Oakley
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