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A Critical Review of Electrosensitivity Research





MCS America

Lourdes Salvador's Column

...Co-founder of MCS America discusses the latest Multiple Chemical Sensitivity issues.









Lourdes Salvador volunteers as a writer and social advocate for the recognition of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS). She was a passionate advocate for the homeless and worked with her local governor to provide services to the homeless through a new approach she created to end homelessness. That passion soon turned to advocacy and activism for people with MCS and the medical professionals who serve them. She co-founded MCS Awareness in 2005 and went on to found MCS America in 2006. She serves as a partner for Environmental Education Week, a partner for the Collaborative on Health and the Environment (CHE), and a supporter for the American Cancer Society: Campaign for Smokefree Air.


For more information visit MCS America




Monday, July 7th, 2008:


Psychologists Suffer Head-in-the-Sand Disorder: A Critical Review of Electrosensitivity Research


by Lourdes Salvador



Psychology and psychiatry are significantly inventive professions in which every human behavior outside expectation is compartmentalized and labeled as abnormal. Compartmentalizing the behavior of others helps clinicians to think they understand behavior that is perceived as unusual or is beyond their own realm of understanding.


For example, a psychologist in New York may observe a trembling man in the park "obsessively" moving from tree to tree and breaking a single flower off of each tree. The psychologist is likely to consider this behavior abnormal. Depending on other factors, a diagnosis such as obsessive compulsive disorder, delusions, psychosis, or something much less specific like generalized anxiety disorder maybe be suspect.


However, if the psychologist were to simply ask the man what he was doing, it may turn out that the man is visiting from Hawaii, suffers from Parkinson´s, and is in New York for his daughters graduation from college. The flowers are for his wife to make their daughter a traditional Hawaiian lei. It is their family custom to select the single best flower from each of dozens of trees to create a perfect lei. The man´s behavior was very normal and quite acceptable in his culture, yet the psychologist´s perception of the man was of someone who is mentally ill simply because the behavior was unfamiliar to him.


This phenomenon is due in large part to the intimidation people feel when faced with someone who looks different, thinks originally, or has unfamiliar or opposing beliefs. Fear is a factor in the face of these uncertainties and someone who acts outside expectations presents a frightening situation for many people, including psychologists. This leads to trying to define the behavior without a full understanding of what the behavior really is.


It is this fear that has lead to the pathologizing of nearly every normal human behavior from grief (depression) to discussing an illness (obsession) to fearing loss of income due to a recession (anxiety) to an asthmatic walking around someone wearing a strong perfume that is triggering an attack (antisocial personality disorder).


Pathologizing people who are dissimilar as mentally ill gives the impression that only those who chose conformity are normal, while at the same time oppressing those who think freely. The majority of so-called mental illnesses in the Diagnostics and Statistics Manual (DSM) are merely figments of clinicians´ vivid imaginations. Labeling choices and behaviors as disorders only brings solace to the clinician frightened by unfamiliar behavior. Choice and behavior are relative to the differences in human beings, their individual and inherent nature, and their personalities.


Behaviors are the result of normal processes. Once considered a mental illness, asthma is an example of a physical disorder that results in certain behaviors that are unexpected by others who do not have asthma. An asthmatic may practice avoidance of fragrances and cigarette smoke which trigger respiratory inflammation. Homosexuality, a mere choice of sexual partners, was also once listed in the DSM as a mental illness.


However, labeling behavior in one of the classifications in the DSM is currently required for insurance billing purposes. Statistics are created from this data. Drugs companies, who often fund clinician´s conferences and provide gifts and promotional freebies, then vie to create drugs to treat these fictitious abnormalities. Hence, financial motives drive the modern profession. Labeling and compartmentalizing scrutinized behavior is, in most cases, merely compartmentalizing normal human behavior, which does, after all, increase business.


There is no confirmation that psychological conditions exist. They are diagnosed based on mere subjective reporting by the patient and subjective observation by the clinician. There are no scientific, clinical tests to determine beyond a reasonable doubt that an abnormality really does exist. The DSM is then a sham and the unsuspecting public is the victim.


The proposal that psychology be considered a science is attributable to Wilhelm Wundt. The profession now turns out many peer-reviewed scientific studies which are leading, but inconclusive. Further, these studies make inaccurate suppositions that fail on their face to take into account all the potential cause and effect scenarios, often placing the cart before the horse.


An example is a study that explores the correlations between stress and cancer and then concludes that stress causes cancer simply because patients with cancer frequently report feeling stressed. It is the professional norm to assume that stress causes cancer, yet cancer is a very stressful disease to have and may indeed be the sole cause of the stress. Chemotherapy is physically stressful and the uncertainly of impending death and/or imminent financial ruin is stressful. Inability to work, lack of family support, worry over the welfare of children, and many other factors are capable of increasing stress post-diagnoses. Yet the profession makes the automatic assumption that stress may cause cancer and fails to so much as even examine the fact that cancer may cause stress. Cancer patients are then advised by journal reading clinicians to avoid stress and relax to improve their condition.


Further thoughtful exploration reveals that stress is a normal human process. Test subjects placed in sensory deprivation chambers where they floated calmly and peacefully for long periods of time have developed psychoses from lack of stress. Everyone has stress, both good stressors (eustress) and bad stressors (distress). Yet everyone with stress does not develop cancer, which is a red flag of contradictory thinking.


The latest example of the profession placing the cart before the horse with leading, but inconclusive, findings was committed by the Department of Psychiatry, Psychosomatics, and Psychotherapy at the University of Regensburg, Germany by Landgrebe and colleagues. In their study "Neuronal correlates of symptom formation in functional somatic syndromes", Landgrebe believes that there is increasing evidence for the contribution of emotional and cognitive functions to symptom formation in functional somatic syndromes and symptom manifestation in electrosensitivity and multiple chemical sensitivity.


Functional somatic syndrome is characterized by a constellation of symptoms and suffering that cannot be conclusively traced to a demonstrable abnormality as a result of science repositioning leisurely and having yet to detect a biochemical etiology.


Landgrebe believes sham mobile phone radiation would induce unpleasant "perceptions", as opposed to real physical stimulus, in electrosensitive (ES) patients. The tests subjects were exposed to sham mobile phone radiation and heat, which produced unpleasantness that Landgrebe blames as the trigger which generates functional somatic syndromes. We are lead to believe that this "sham" exposure made the electrosensitive subjects "think" they were being exposed and therefore having a reaction.


The picture is very different when employing free critical thinking. When we ask what generated the "heat" in these so-called "sham" exposures to mobile phone radiation, we find the heat was likely generated by something electric with an electromagnetic frequency (EMF) that would trigger a reaction in an ES individual, suggesting the exposure was far from a "sham" and therefore, the symptoms far from perceived.


Regrettably, research like this does not actually endeavor to understand how such exposures may "cause" an emotional effect. Instead it is automatically assumed that emotions cause the effects without coming full circle to explore the other possibility. This results in frequent unnecessary, and financially lucrative, drugging of patients. Staunchly standing behind their convictions in the name profits and kickbacks, the evidence that these mind numbing drugs don´t work to improve the subjects ES symptoms is disregarded.


Significantly inventive professions, psychology and psychiatry fail to make the grade once again. The victims of electrosensitivity, multiple chemical sensitivity and other ailments that they label as so-called "functional somatic syndromes" are left with unproven and pathetically hopeless ideas which do nothing to alleviate their suffering. The diagnosis given to the profession is "head-in-the-sand" disorder, which seems to be correlated with their research. Therefore, being a psychiatric researcher causes one to develop head-in-the-sand disorder.




Landgrebe M, Barta W, Rosengarth K, Frick U, Hauser S, Langguth B, Rutschmann R, Greenlee MW, Hajak G, Eichhammer P. Neuronal correlates of symptom formation in functional somatic syndromes: A fMRI study. Neuroimage. 2008 Apr 20. [Epub ahead of print]



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