The Sleeping Beauties by Suzanne O ’Sullivan review – 21st century health mysteries

Sleeping sickness, strange behaviour and mass hysteria ... a neurologist makes sense of ‘psychosomatic’ illnessIn Sweden in recent years, hundreds of children of refugee families have fallen into coma-like states and not woken up again, sometimes for months or years. Dozens of people in three Nicaraguan communities have had tremors, convulsions, breathing difficulties and hallucinations that make them fight with superhuman strength and run into the jungle. Diplomats in Cuba, experiencing headaches, dizziness, tinnitus and fatigue, became convinced that they were victims of a new and terrifying sonic weapon. Older victims in two small towns in Kazakhstan blamed toxic mines for their sleeping sickness and strange behaviour, while fainting high school girls in Colombia were told they were crazy, attention-seeking and sexually frustrated. When similar symptoms swept through a school in New York, the environmental activistErin Brockovich turned up, along with news crews, wanting to examine the site of a 40-year-old train crash.While local communities give these symptoms distinct names and have very different opinions about their causes – from poisoning to secret weapons to being led astray by the devil – neurologist Suzanne O’Sullivan is convinced that they are the same type of disorder. What this book is far less clear about is what exactly we should call it. We may know it as “psychosomatic” illness, from the Greek wor ds for “mind...
Source: Guardian Unlimited Science - Category: Science Authors: Tags: Health, mind and body books Culture Psychology Source Type: news

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