Gulf War Syndrome: Is It Physiological, Or Psychological?
What is Gulf War Syndrome (GWS)? Is it a debilitating physical condition because of a secret use of chemical and biological warfare from the Iraqis? Is it post-traumatic stress disorder that resulted from the Gulf War? Nobody really knows the truth behind GWS, but many people have given their expertise and opinions on what, if anything caused GWS. In Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Media, written by Elaine Showalter, she gives her account of GWS as “an epidemic of suspicion, a plague of paranoia that threatens a greater malaise than even Vietnam.” (143) It is true that GWS could be a case of paranoia or suspicion, but the physical symptoms and the transferring of symptoms from one person to the next just does not add up. It can be derived from evidence that GWS seems to be linked to chemical exposure.
This illness can be thought of as being caused two different ways, physiological and psychological. The physiological explanation makes no sense to me. It might be hard to believe that roughly 60,000 war veterans have this mysterious illness that causes many pains and defects to the body and it has not been identified by doctors or scientists. Doctors cannot seem to find anything wrong with these patients, except that some of the symptoms resemble post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder places a tremendous amount of stress on the body, and it can cause physical ailments such as a rash, loss of sleep, or headaches. These symptoms resemble the symptoms of GWS.
In her discussion about GWS, Showalter really did not give any proof to back up her claim that it is a psychological ailment. She more or less made a joke out of the physiological aspect of the claim. It is hard to believe or take sides with a certain issue when the author offers no proof and mocks the opposing argument. Obviously, she cannot see the other side of the argument because she is a one-tracked mind type of person. She wrote a book about what she thinks is a series of hysterical illnesses that was caused by an affliction of the mind and is expressed through a disturbance of the body. I am not discounting all of her arguments, and I do believe the mind plays some role in this, and other types of illnesses, but the evidence is stacked against her in her discussion about Gulf War Syndrome.
There are two main scenarios on how GWS originated. Both of these scenarios are a direct and indirect result of chemical and biological weapons. The first is the plain and simple fact that there were chemical and biological weapons in Iraq during the war. Iraq has a long history of using these weapons. They admitted to using mass amount of chemical weapons against their neighboring country of Iran in 1983 all the way until the Gulf War. Even though Saddam Hussein gave his word that chemical and biological weapons were not used, who is going to trust the word of a dictatorial leader like Hussein? According to...