Major Studies Find No Evidence of Brain Injury in Alleged ‘Havana Syndrome’ Patients

by | Mar 18, 2024

Major Studies Find No Evidence of Brain Injury in Alleged ‘Havana Syndrome’ Patients

by | Mar 18, 2024

u.s. flag flaps outside u.s. embassy in havana, cuba (25998479275)

Two studies conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) on scores of people claiming to have Havana Syndrome did not find any evidence of brain damage. Purported victims of Havana Syndrome claim they were targeted by a foreign power with a mysterious weapon that caused undetectable neurological issues. 

Havana Syndrome was first reported among American diplomats in Cuba in 2016 who claimed to be exposed to a sonic weapon that caused headaches. An investigation published by JASON, a group of scientists who advise the US government, concluded that crickets native to Cuba were making the noise, causing neurological symptoms among American officials in Havana. 

Since, scores of diplomats have reported symptoms in a range of countries including Vietnam, Russia, and China. The self-identified victims claim they were targeted with some form of microwave, sonic, or direct energy weapon that caused a myriad of symptoms, including headaches, as well as problems with sleep, vision, and hearing. 

On Monday, NIH published two studies that concluded Havana Syndrome was not caused by directed energy weapons. Additionally, in both investigations, researchers were unable to detect any signs to indicate the patients had suffered neurological damage.

“In this exploratory neuroimaging study, there was no significant MRI-detectable evidence of brain injury among the group of participants who experienced [anomalous health incidents] compared with a group of matched control participants,” the authors wrote. However, researchers did not dismiss the possibility that somehow the claimed victims were actually targeted with a mysterious weapon. 

Robert E. Bartholomew and Dr. Adam Gaffney argued that Havana Syndrome, rather than being caused by weapons, is a mass psychogenic illness. In an essay published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Bartholomew explains, “As is typical in mass psychogenic illness outbreaks, as news of the ‘attacks’ spread among the diplomatic community, more US Embassy staff were affected, including members of the Canadian Embassy.”

He continues, “The irregular patterning of the ‘attacks’ is not typical of an infectious agent. Many ‘incidents’ were said to have occurred in homes and hotels. Why were some people affected, while others either standing or sleeping next to the ‘victim,’ were not?”

Still, allegations of attacks causing Havana syndrome continued to impact American officials around the world into the first years of the Joe Biden administration. The claims of attacks have led to the demonization of Russia, the breakdown of diplomatic relations with Cuba, and the delay of high-level visits to foreign nations. 

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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