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Myths about Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

red skull and power lines

As if we didn’t have enough things to worry about already, now we are being told to fear our toasters. A typical headline trumpets “The Effects of Invisible Waves.” We are increasingly exposed to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones, cell phone towers, wireless Internet routers, cordless phones, and power lines. Other sources 1,2 are our household appliances: TVs, hairdryers, light bulbs, and yes, your trusty toaster. These invisible villains are said to lead to a variety of symptoms, including poor sleep, fatigue, heart palpitations, headache, nausea, dizziness, memory impairment, prickling and burning sensations, along with skin rashes. They’ve even been blamed for depression, anxiety, colds, digestive disorders, and chronic pain. It’s called electromagnetic hypersensitivity or EHS.

Is EHS physical or psychological? Research is problematic because there is no universally accepted definition of the condition. The array of symptoms is reminiscent of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, Gulf War syndrome, fibromyalgia, somatization disorder, anxiety, and simple stress.

One sufferer claims to be so sensitive that if he is in the front yard and someone in the house hangs up from a cell phone call, he can immediately feel an energy shift.4 (What would happen to his brain in a stadium full of people on cell phone calls?) I’d love to see him submit to rigorous controlled testing— I’m guessing he has little chance of winning Randi’s million dollars.

Another says, “If I walk into a room or building that has Wi-Fi, my most immediate sign is that the front of my right thigh goes numb; if I don’t leave, I’ll get short of breath, chest pains and the numbness will spread.” (Numbness, shortness of breath, and chest pains are classic signs of hyperventilation due to anxiety.)

It has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to EMF can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” is unrelated to the presence of EMF.

Such claims don’t hold up under scrutiny. A 2005 review in the Psychosomatic Medicine journal identified 31 blinded provocation experiments done on “electromagnetically hypersensitive” subjects. Twenty-four studies found no evidence of sensitivity. Seven studies did report some supporting evidence, but in two of them the same research group tried to replicate their own findings and failed; in three others, the positive findings could be attributed to statistical artifacts; and in the remaining two the results were mutually incompatible (one showed improved mood; the other showed worse mood). Studies that were not blinded all found that the patients reported symptoms only when they were aware that the EMF (electromagnetic field) source was switched on. The implication is obvious. The researchers noted:

The symptoms described by “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” sufferers can be severe and are sometimes disabling. However, it has proved difficult to show under blind conditions that exposure to EMF can trigger these symptoms. This suggests that “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” is unrelated to the presence of EMF.

A follow up review included 15 experiments done after the initial review: it confirmed the initial findings. At least one systematic review by other authors has also confirmed those findings.

The World Health Organization reviewed 25,000 articles. They concluded that current evidence does not show any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields.

Health Canada says “there is no scientific evidence that the symptoms attributed to EHS are actually caused by exposure to EMFs.”

The Skeptic’s Dictionary comes right out and calls EHS a psychosomatic disorder.

Brian Dunning (www.briandunning.com) offers this revealing anecdote:

We had an interesting incident near Humboldt State University. A new cell tower went up and the local newspaper asked a number of people what they thought of it. Some said they noticed their cell phone reception was better. Some said they noticed the tower was affecting their health. To paraphrase the bottom line: “think about how much more pronounced these effects will be once the tower is actually operational.”

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Nevertheless, up to 5% of people in surveys claim to have EHS. Sweden pays disability benefits to people who believe they have the condition. A man in New Mexico sued his neighbor for $530,000 in damages and sought an injunction to force her to turn off her electronic devices. A Roman Catholic cardinal and priest were convicted of polluting the atmosphere with powerful electromagnetic waves from a Vatican Radio antenna. There have been campaigns to turn off Wi-Fi networks in schools. One activist said “Until such time as we know that these technologies are absolutely safe, Wi-Fi has no place in elementary schools, and maybe not even in high schools.” There are over 30 support groups and a number of activist organizations. One group even blamed Wi-Fi for causing autism.

And there’s no lack of bogus remedies. For only $298 you can buy the EarthCalm Home EMF Protection System. They know it works because a quantum biofeedback machine showed changes in the body’s biofield and the energy and chemical imbalance of the body. There are other devices for personal, home and cell phone protection including some that plug into the wall. Patients have tried orgonite and orgonium products, scalar energy pendants, a zero point energy wand, crystal healing, and even a BioDisk from a quantum physicist. They seem less willing to try the one thing that evidence says really does help: psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy.

Sufferers have resorted to living in a Faraday cage or moving to the U.S. Radio Quiet Zone on the border between Virginia and West Virginia, where mountain topography and FCC restrictions collaborate to shield the radio telescopes located there from interference.

Dr. William Rea believes he has EHS and that his neurologic symptoms were due to electromagnetic fields in the operating room. He gave up surgery and re-invented himself as a guru of “environmental medicine.” The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) is listed on Quackwatch as a questionable organization, and its certifying board, the American Board of Environmental Medicine, is listed as a dubious certifying board. It is not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. Their website says:

A quickly growing body of scientific evidence has revealed how many important inflammatory and autoimmune diseases are caused by man’s interaction with the environment, both internally and externally. At the AAEM, we understand this interaction. We can provide you with the answers you need and new insights that will open the door to newer and more effective, specific, cause-oriented, and preventive treatment for most of these conditions.

Patients are persuaded that the world has made them sick. Symptoms are blamed on everything from the wood in the walls to additives in food. While one chemical might not be a problem, multiple chemicals and substances supposedly overwhelm the body’s ability to cope.

Rea blames mold, yeast, EMF, allergies, and multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) for his patients’ vague subjective complaints. His diagnostic tests are questionable. His treatments include avoidance, immunotherapy, detoxification, nutritional supplements, restricted diets, and drugs. His clinic has nonreactive ceramic walls, detoxification saunas, and exercise machines cleaned of lubricants that might put fumes into the air.

His immunotherapy treatments are non-standard; he was even accused of injecting jet fuel into patients. He made excuses, first saying that he was injecting jet fuel “antigens” as a skin test for allergy. (Jet fuel is a skin irritant, but is not considered to be an allergen.) Then he argued that he doesn’t actually inject chemicals, but only the “electromagnetic imprint” of the chemicals in the form of homeopathic remedies!

The Texas medical board charged him with six counts, including using pseudoscientific test methods, failing to make accurate diagnoses, and providing “nonsensical” treatments. They didn’t suspend his license, but they required him to use written consent forms with clear disclaimers that his skin tests and treatments are nonstandard, unproven, and don’t contain any active ingredients.

An episode of ABC’s Nightline news show about Dr. Rea’s controversial diagnoses and treatments aired in 2009. I was appalled by the interviews with a patient diagnosed by Dr. Rea as sensitive to almost everything in her environment. She can’t work or leave home; her whole life revolves around her treatments. She moved to an island and created a pollutant free home. She won’t use her telephone because the magnets in it give her headaches. She spends two hours a day inhaling oxygen. She injects herself daily with a variety of unconventional “allergy” shots, including mercury! Curiously, she has no sensitivities to her dogs, her horses, or the dust kicked up as she rides in a dirt arena. Nightline also interviewed a real allergy specialist who said these people are reacting to stress, have underlying psychiatric issues, and have developed a conditioned response to experience symptoms when they encounter an odor or anything else they think they are sensitive to.

Rea has done research to support his work. I looked at some of his published studies: they range from the seriously flawed to the uncontrolled and outright laughable. MCS has not been meaningfully defined, diagnosis is based on unblinded, unvalidated tests whose findings vanish when blinding is used, and the treatment is a mishmash of everything but the kitchen sink.

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This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 18.1 (2013)

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The modern world is portrayed as a dangerous place where everything is out to get you, from the ink in your newsprint to the fluoride in your toothpaste, from the air you breathe to the food you eat, from your smart phone to your computer, from the emissions of your toaster (even when turned off!) to the very walls of your home.

People who believe they suffer from these disorders have very real symptoms; they deserve our sympathy and efforts to reduce their suffering. Their symptoms are not imaginary, but it’s their imagination that blames electromagnetic and chemical sensitivities. To quote Brian Dunning, “The ability of a human brain to convince itself of just about anything is not to be underestimated.” END

About the Author

Dr. Harriet Hall, MD, the SkepDoc, is a retired family physician and Air Force Colonel living in Puyallup, WA. She writes about alternative medicine, pseudoscience, quackery, and critical thinking. She is a contributing editor to both Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer, an advisor to the Quackwatch website, and an editor of Sciencebasedmedicine.org, where she writes an article every Tuesday. She is author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon. Her website is SkepDoc.info.

52 Comments

  1. Ouch says:

    Question: Have any double-blind tests been carried out on close range symptoms? I am skeptical of symptoms experienced over any range more than an inch or two but I appear to personally experience ache in head (not heat, ache) when using mobile phones in contact with my ear or wireless headphones. Mobile phone ache is worse when signal is bad.

    A double-blind test would need to be carried out over long period as ache lasts for some time afterwards so would skew results if ‘cool down’ time was not allowed.

    Thoughts?

    • René de Kat says:

      @Ouch “Thoughts?”

      Yes, seek help. Clue is in the article: “They seem less willing to try the one thing that evidence says really does help: psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy.”

      • Ouch says:

        My question still stands:

        Have experiments been carried out at much shorter distances – say less than one inch? If such experiments have not been performed, as skeptics we should not be so confident in predicting the results.

        I ask this question as a skeptic who desperately wants to use wireless headphones for convenience but has had to ditch more than one pair. And who had to dispose of a Panasonic cordless phone (this was by far the worst one to use) and needs to use hands-free on mobile (or hold mobile phone away from ear).

        I would certainly be happy to take part in a double-blind test that included cooling off periods, so confident am I that this is not placebo.

      • Sylvan Moir says:

        Rene de |Kat : You try it !!- you supercilious overbearing judgemental hypocrite.

      • robert christ says:

        “The Skeptics dictionary comes right out and calls EHS a psychosomatic disorder”
        The prevalence of celiac disease until the last decade or so was thought to be around one in a thousand. Now it’s thought to be closer to 1 in 130. If you do the math on 300 million people that translates into 2 million missed diagnosis’s. One thing none of the promoters of psychogenic illnesses never seem to do is to make a correlation or allude to some type of correlation to the 2 million who slipped through the cracks with celiac and those who claim to these types of illnesses. gws, mcs, fm, me, or ehs. Or in other words I could very easily see someone with an undiagnosed illness like celiac clinging to something like ehs. Would that be considered psychosomatic. If so I think the term is so overly broad as to be meaningless. And in my opinion to use it in the way stated above is misleading and dishonest.

    • Cameron says:

      Ouch. There are some studies for short range effects, but I don’t have the links to them here. Basically, they all find short range heating effects, which shouldn’t be a surprise because that’s how microwaves ovens were “discovered”. So, if you are truly being skeptical, consider alternatives as being equally plausible causes. Such alternatives could be this heat effect, or how the device is physically in contact with your ears (old pair of glasses used to give me a headache all because of how they sat on my rather small ears), or even the volume & hrz range of the device. Most devices use tiny speakers that blast out a very narrow range of sound at a high volume so that you can hear it. This alone could cause some discomfort and possibly a headache. There are just so many possibilities, and you don’t need double-blinded studies to consider the options.

      • Ouch says:

        If it is related to tiny speakers, why do I not experience the same effect with cheap in-ear headphones? And it’s not a general headache it is localised. On the wireless headphones (which do not get warm like a mobile phone) the ache is always on the side where the receiver is located.

        Believe me, I have considered all options – this has been an ongoing issue since using the cordless (about 10 years). If you do find links to short distance studies, they would be most welcome.

        • Ouch says:

          I should also mention one set of wireless headphones I tried had a wired mode. The ache does not occur in wired mode (when the wireless receiver/transmitter – it has a mic – is disabled). As a miser (good wireless headsets cost in excess of $100), it is certainly not from a lack of trying. I have nothing to prove, I’d just like to use some wireless headphones.

      • René de Kat says:

        @Cameron Without the original posts, your claims are of little value, as we can’t verify them.

        Also, if headphones cause heat effect, you can easily test this yourself, by putting your headphones on a substance at a given temperature. Add a thermometer and wait. Make sure your room is properly temperature controlled.

        Please publish your results and methodology for peer review.

        • Ouch says:

          “you can easily test”

          “Make sure your room is properly temperature controlled”

          I think the second quote negates the first.

    • Kay Jay Day says:

      What do you think it means that the symptoms are WORSE when the signal is weaker, or “bad” as you say?

      • Ouch says:

        As I understand, phones give off more radiation when the signal is weak. The cell phone has to send out a stronger signal to connect to base station. Maybe there’s a link there. Again, I understand this is all anecdotal, I’d just like to see some studies where these things are taken into account.

        I don’t need to be patronised with regards to the difference between anecdotal and hard evidence. Like I said, I’m a proud skeptic.

        Links to studies would be helpful. You all seem very sure of yourselves, but no links posted so far.

        (I would also like to distance myself from any experience where the radiation source is more than a few inches from the body – as posted above I am skeptical of that)

        • MCS Sufferer says:

          Ouch, here’s a study you might be interested in:
          “In a double-blinded EMF provocation procedure specifically designed to minimize unintentional sensory cues, the subject developed temporal pain, headache, muscle twitching, and skipped heartbeats within 100 s after initiation of EMF exposure (p < .05). The symptoms were caused primarily by field transitions (off-on, on-off) rather than the presence of the field, as assessed by comparing the frequency and severity of the effects of pulsed and continuous fields in relation to sham exposure. The subject had no conscious perception of the field as judged by her inability to report its presence more often than in the sham control.”
          McCarty, D., Carrubba, S., Chesson, A., Frilot, C., Gonzalez-Toledo, E. and Marino, A. (2011). Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity: Evidence for a Novel Neurological Syndrome. International Journal of Neuroscience, 121(12), pp.670-676. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21793784

          • Ouch says:

            Thanks for the link, much appreciated.

            Shame it appears the plates may have been too far from head to be a fair comparison to mobile phone use and radiation exposure. Note, ache occurs when not necessarily in direct contact with head but does not occur beyond a couple of inches distance.

            Still looking for links to relevant study.

  2. Phil Ross says:

    Thank you for republishing this article, as it’s one of the better ones which describe these two “idiopathic illnesses.”

    While it’s nice to see that some US agencies are finally identifying them as “Idiopathic Environmental Intolerances” attributed to “Electro-Magnetic Fields” or “Multiple Chemical Sensitivities” (“IEI-EMF” or “IEI-MCS”) and at least inferring that there may be a strong “Nocebo Effect” correlation, it would be far better if they strongly asserted the science versus the pseudo-science. Their timidity to do so (thus allowing the “Chicken Littles” to perpetuate these myths) is infuriating.

  3. Sylvan Moir says:

    I am not a myth. I exist ./ There are many millions of us now. In Sweden 300,000 thousand people are registered as electrosensitive. In fact all life is electrosensitive.
    If you knew anything about anything at all you would know this. You would also know that knowledge starts with personal experience _ in fact ALWAYS involves the same. If not – it is strictly uselss.
    To deny this is the acme of irrationality . The people who do it are completely lost to a credo which is science-as-religion. They have no sense at all – no common sense and no compassion. They are already robots. The earth does not want robots – that is not why life arrived here.

    • Roy Niles says:

      The point to be made clear is that knowledge does not end with personal experience.

    • Alan Buckle says:

      Well, there are millions of people who ‘exist’ and believe that the world was created in six days. That does not ‘prove’ anything, other than that there is a monstrous lot of fools in the world.
      Personal experience is not necessarily a guide to anything. It may provoke thought, and if this is entertained in a properly informed and structured mind it may lead to some advancement, but all too often the lack of technical background and fundamental understanding can lead to very false conclusions which are avidly incorporated into the vast collection of false ideas – which are used to give profits to the snake oil salespeople. Perhaps from you?

      From your comment it is to be strongly suspected that you do not possess a scientific-engineering industrial background. If you had, you would never have written ‘ALWAYS…’ Because that is nonsense. Very many advances are obtained when something quite outside ‘experience’ is observed. It starts with ‘That’s unusual,’ ‘I wonder why….’..and then it begins. But requires a properly structured mind, and knowledge, and experience……
      Or: “We need to obtain this effect; how do we go about it?”

      And so it goes. It is a splendid life….

      ‘Skeptic’ is written to provoke rational thought and analysis. Please entertain yourself with this, and avoid, above all ‘The Arrogance of Ignorance.’ And avoid the ‘Confirmation Bias.’ If you haven’t heard of this latter, read it up. It may help you to know yourself a little better.

      • Sylvan Moir says:

        Thank God I do not possess a science background if your blindness and stupidity is anything to go by.

    • Kay Jay Day says:

      The “personal experience” you hold such store by is literally the definition of anecdotal evidence. It is useless when you want to verify something scientifically.

      • Sylvan Moir says:

        You people are so ignorant and sytematically stupid. I don’t know whether to answer or not _ either you shut up or you have to give long explanations to people who are thoroughly brain-washed.
        Your ignorance is not unconnected to your getting the EHS issue totally wrong and being so phenomenally stupid you are unable to hear me when I tell you the effects microwave radiation has on me.
        It will lead – to the complete destruction of this civilization – without question – this degree of fixed unalterable stupidity – so your time will come to suffer.
        Fist of all – this nonsense about “Anecdotes” is close to the heart of your stupid science-as- religion posture. ALL theories JUST IN CASE they have anything to say about the world, have an element of the anecdotal. It could not be otherwise. Nor should we wish it to be.
        The rationality of science can rest only on the presumed underlying rational order within the universe – NOTHING ELSE . This what we “ontology”. When you talk about “anecdotal” you are talking about “epistemology” . If the universe had no underlying rational order epistemology could make no difference to the fact that science could not then exist.
        I repeat- what I said earlier – without an element of personal experience any statement is strictly useless. But you religious zealots pretend and hypnotise yourselves to believe you have discovered a gold standard method of delivering infallible truth, and everything else is to be flushed away and disregarded – and this is the “non-anecdotal” nature of science.
        Stupidity upon stupidity upon stupidity – you make so many mistakes with your essentially religious affirmations – which are also not thought through. The Greeks with their science were immeasurably less confused, and immeasurably more rational – than you are.
        And you do not even stop to think when your absurd ideas push you into extreme cruelty towards people like me – who say we
        are being destroyed by microwaves. You are not worth much.

        • Roy Niles says:

          If it’s possible that something else is actually “destroying” you, what have you done to deal with that possibility? Other than to to argue that you’re certain that you know intuitively to be a certainty what no-one else has been able to scientifically establish?

    • Kay Jay Day says:

      Yo, Sylvan, how were you able to type this?

    • Jenny H says:

      Do you realise that light is electromagnetic radiation?

  4. Trish says:

    L Ron Hubbard famously said the way to get rich is to start a religion. The above shows it would also be possible to get rich inventing a cure for an invented disease.

  5. Traruh Synred says:

    There is a good reason why kids with power lines ruining through there school or people with ’em in the backyard might have higher cancer rates!

    The7 will on in average be poorer and poverty correlates with all kinds of bad shit.

    • Jenny H says:

      Poverty is related to living near power lines — since people who can afford not to opt to not to.
      Poverty is also related to living in the slums, aside railway lines lack of heating/cooling and poor nutrition.

  6. JC in San Diego says:

    The rejection of data by those who claim to have EHS is quite revealing.

    Kay Jay Day made a very good point: Just how are you sufferers able to use a computer? There are magnetic fields all around your machines.

    The “selectivity” of these fields is what should be investigated. How do these fields “know” how to not annoy sensitive people when they’re using electronic devices to complain about their sensitivity to electronic devices?

    As to the Swedish credulity about this “health problem”, just what test is used to determine who is a “sufferer”?

  7. Justin says:

    Hi I’m Penn Jilette and this is my partner Teller and Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity is Bullshit! Da da da duh da duh da da da da da da daaaaa

  8. Dr. Sidethink says:

    Epoch Gryphal Story

    In the ’50’s there was a guy in Denver who wore a lead foil liner in his hat.

    His explanation was ****

    I am continually getting a lot of Electromagnetic Radiation from the regualr sources.

    Also Members of the Mafia Zap me wen I go by one of their spotters.

    I think I cut down most of it but

    Even with this LINER , iT STILL GETS PRETTY HOT IN THERE!!!
    **************************

    btw
    DID YOU GUYS KNOW THAT THE
    “IBM” (INTERNATIONAL BEAM MANAGERS)
    ARE SENDING LOTSA STUFF OUT LATELY FROM BAVARIA TO
    CELEBRATE THAT THE MOZART ILLUMINATI CONSPIRACY IS STILL HAPPENING !!!

    SIC TRANSIT

    DR. S

  9. iamwhoam says:

    There may be subsets of people who are hypersensitive to EMR .
    Probably not great in number. We have a filtering system in our lower brain and midbrain for removing most of the EMR spectrum.

    There are also persons with psychopathology using this “in vogue” disease as projections.

  10. MCS Sufferer says:

    This article makes skeptics look bad. MCS is taken much more seriously in a number of European countries and Japan, where it has an ICD-10 code. The Australian government review, A Scientific Review of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity: Identifying Key Research Needs, recommended “Targeted research into the biological basis of the condition: Understanding the biological basis of MCS could lead to improved diagnosis and treatment – several biologically plausible hypotheses were found to be worthy of further investigation.” https://www.nicnas.gov.au/chemical-information/information-sheets/factsheets-on-specific-topics/multiple-chemical-sensitivity-review-factsheet

  11. robert christ says:

    “They seem less willing to try the one thing that EVIDENCE says really does help: psychotherapy, specifically CBT”

    Evidence based on what? The highly questionable pace trial?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controversies_related_to_chronic_fatigue_syndrome
    (Skip down to the section on “pace trial”)

    Unfortunately for people with CFS and similar syndromes authority figures with questionable motives and biases have been generating propaganda based on horrible studies like pace for close to 100 years. None of them holding up to the type of rigor one would ordinarly expect out of journals promoting real science.

  12. Antonio Nafarrate says:

    Dear Dr. I have studied this problem for many years. In 1989 I had a paper published “Animal Navigation and Biological Rhythms: the Inertial Theory”. It is my conclusion that all animals and plants are sensitive to Electromagnetic fields as a perturbation to the sensing of Gravity by the internal rotor in the molecule of ATP Synthase. This rotor was anticipated in my paper some 4 years before it was described in “Science” by Sir John Walker FRS in 1993.(Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 1997). My animal navigation model uses the Circadian Clock for timing and Gravity as only cue. You can see more details on my Website animalnav dot org. As you open the Home page in the upper right corner is the Search box, just type “Antonio” and a list of my postings is shown. See “Introduction to my ideas” and “Appendix”. Under the Heading “Editorial Team” is a list of my Research positions in Silicon Valley.
    With my best regards,
    Antonio Nafarrate.

  13. J Dan Vignau says:

    Having grown up in East Tennessee, I saw the real effects of power lines on people. Children who played in the clearing under them had such significant symptoms that they were obviously affected by the lines.
    Well, not quite!
    Every few months or so, TVA would send crews to kill the weeds with poisons that could have easily caused these symptoms. The power lines were indirectly responsible, but the weed killer seems to be the actual culprit.
    I contacted TVA. They had nothing to say.

  14. James Carlson says:

    Any condition that reflects an actual, debilitating symptomology will eventually be claimed as such in the disability databases maintained by the Social Security Administration. Millions of cases claimed have to be investigated by medical authority, and if the condition is actually disabling, or even partially disabling (an important point given the SSA’s fair-minded policy recognizing that a combination of factors may result in disability that does not exist when only one such factor is examined in isolation), then it will result in granted support payments to enable the individual under examination to live as normal a life as possible. Feel free to check the data if you like, but I’m pretty certain that nobody in the United States has made a successful claim of disability due to electromagnetic sensitivity. If you can’t persuade your own doctor to get on board (and for the record, American doctors are, for the most part, willing to accept as real and treat, when possible, almost any disability imaginable on the basis of the sufferer’s claims alone), it’s a little much to expect anybody else to accept your tired little claims as having any basis in measurable fact. It isn’t because the rest of the world is “stupid”. It’s because your claims of disability are unfounded, unproven, and very likely a reflection of your deeply ingrained, mental incontinence. In other words, at your best, you’re an annoyance; at your worst, you’re trying to con the world into writing you a check you don’t deserve in order to purchase a lifestyle you don’t need, using money that you haven’t even attempted to earn.

  15. Fred with MCS says:

    I remember 2 incidents. The first where I was convinced that I was going to have an allergic reaction, and didn’t. I bit in to a muffin and thought I had eaten raspberries. It turns out it was blueberry-poppy seed, neither of which I am allergic to. The other time I was in a grocery store. They were sampling a new banana cake. I love banana cake. I checked the ingredients and they were safe for me. I ate some. About 5 minutes later I felt terrible. They kept the old ingredients. The new cake had propylene glycol in it. Tell me how my allergies are psychological again?

  16. laportama FACP says:

    1) What does that say about transcranial magnetic stimulation?
    2) I am convinced beyond doubt that the vast majority — say 85% or ALL disease is predominantly psychosomatic at root. That doesn’t mean it’s not real, just that it’s not what the patient thinks it is and what the doctor finds convenient to treat.

  17. Stan Roelker says:

    these people who “say” they have these “feelings” will be the first to go if we ever have a major outbreak of some disease!

  18. NormB says:

    As a practicing physician for 25 years, this “condition” and fibromyalgia are more easily explained as anxiety-conversion disorders than anything substantially, organically, demonstrably “real.” The only other thing even remotely similar in degree of egregious bogosity is acupuncture, but I digress.

    One of the comments is typical of the phantom conditions we suffer today “If you only knew.” This ego-defense mechanism ensures the person “suffering” maintains the illusion of being all so alone, boo-hoo, poor me…

    The part that is truly laughable, out loud laughable, is “microwave energy” does me in kinds of comments.

    When I mention the universe is permeated with 2k and 4k radiation (residual background radiation allegedly from the “big bang”) at approximately the same frequency as cell phone energy, I get blank looks.

    Ego/personality disorders, public education victimhood, denial, all combine to make the “sufferer” of EMS as comical as, say, a man who believes he’s a woman and hundreds of thousands of dollars of psychotherapy, drugs and surgery are all he needs to complete the transformation… well, that and a DNA/chromosome transplant.

    • robert christ says:

      NormB says:
      “This ego-defense mechanism ensures the person “suffering” maintains the illusion of being all so alone, boo-hoo, poor me…”

      I actually aggree this might happen often. Just that they are not nearly as deluded as you might think. People love to exagerate when they are talking about themselves. And there is the personal gain angle. There somehow getting something out of it.

      “this “condition” and fibromyalgia are more easily explained as anxiety-conversion disorders than anything substantially…” “real”

      Easy for you as a physician. Not so easy for a patient if your wrong. And with a bias like your showing I would suspect the likelihood very high for this. You can read my previous comments on this article as to why I think this is a bunch of crap. And why I think MD’S who push this crap have more in common with anti-vaxers than they might be willing to admit. (pushing an ideology not based in facts that has the potential to do great harm) Put in a nut shell there are just too many other possibilities ranging from a subject feigning illness for some type of personal gain to the person being legitimately sick with a condition that isn’t recognized by science yet.

      As I stated in two above comments. Just because someone thinks they have a condition which is medically impossible doesn’t automatically mean it’s psychological. All the research going into gut bacteria is showing the potential for a wide range of previously unexplained medical conditions.
      https://fromthelabs.bcm.edu/2016/07/25/a-single-species-of-gut-bacteria-can-reverse-autism-related-social-behavior-in-mice/

      Before we started treating lyme in the early 80’s you could have said all this about a suffer and you would have been wrong.

      My suspicion is if doctors really did know everything there is to know about disease instead of suffering from the delusion that they do. None of the below attitudes would exist:

      “we can’t explain it so it must be psychological” “we have known since ancient times about hysteria” “most the time I believe correlation doesn’t necessary mean cause, but in the case of Psychogenic illnesses I’ll make an exception” “we know people who are depressed exhibit symptoms consistent with CFS” “mass hysteria is well documented to be a mental condition” etc. etc. etc.

      Physicians need to open there minds to the fact that some people who present this way are actually suffering from a physical illness that simply isn’t recognized by science at this time. And they are indeed slipping through the cracks.

  19. Lee Shaffer says:

    I don’t believe in electromagnetic “diseases” or multiple chemical sensitivities, but I apparently have fibromyalgia. I have been an athlete my whole life. I’ve run many marathons and have been an excellent baseball, tennis, and basketball player. I’m also not a fool. My background is in math and science and I’m a dissertation short of a Ph.D. My symptoms are stiffness, soreness, tender points in all 4 quadrants, unrefreshing sleep, and some others. I’ve seen the usual dozens of doctors about this. With virtually equal training, I ran my best marathon in 1985 and 4 years later could barely finish a 10 mile run. What say you?

  20. robert christ says:

    More to my point that there is almost certainly a large segment of the population that is slipping through the cracks with undiagnosed, untreated severely disabling illness. And that is where the focus should be. Not on a made up medical condition called “conversion disorder” or “psychosomatic” or “hysteria”

    Biological explanation for wheat sensitivity found

    https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160726123632.htm?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook

  21. JC in San Diego says:

    There is a lot of noise in this discussion that has nothing to do with the topic. There are so many logical fallacies in this thread that it would take about an hour to point them all out.

    A test for this alleged problem is very simple. But, it doesn’t seem to matter to people who claim to have EHS that no evidence can be found. They still suffer, or at least claim they’re suffering. Physics doesn’t matter, nor chemistry, just what someone thinks is so.

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