Gulf War Syndrome
A highly controversial syndrome involving a constellation of illnesses experienced by up to 80,000 American veterans who were in the Gulf War. Despite extensive (and expensive) research, no specific cause has been found for the Gulf War syndrome. Consequently, many physicians and scientists (but very few of the veterans with the syndrome) regard it as the result of psychological and social factors. A study reported in 2001 disclosed that the diagnosis depends upon who sees the patient and that mental health workers are more likely to believe that Gulf War illness is due to a physical factor such as a contagious or toxic agent, while general internal medicine physicians are more likely to think that the syndrome is a manifestation of mental illness. To hold that point of view, doctors have to believe a select population of people who were prone to mental illness, were, by some statistical impossibility, involved in the Gulf War. Otherwise, why was this syndrome not present in hundreds of thousands of people involved in other wars?