This Is What Americans Heard During The Mysterious Cuban Sonic Attacks, And Why Experts Don't Buy It

Tyler Durden's picture

Multiple neurologists and experts have told The Guardian that the mysterious 'sonic attacks' upon US diplomats in Cuba are likely just a case of mass hysteria. The extensive Guardian report is based on research and interviews with top neurologists and medical experts explaining that the likeliest explanation for the strange and inexplicable symptoms reported by US embassy staff in Cuba which have led to a breakdown in relations between the two countries has nothing to do with some kind of Cuban sonic device or high tech conspiracy.

The neurologists say that the most plausible explanation is that the diplomats' high stress environment is leading to neurological abnormalities and disorders which are causing psychosomatic (or self-induced) symptoms. If true it would be a shocking revelation that such a "natural cause" phenomenon could result in the US removing most of its embassy staff from Havana. The Guardian report was issued on the very day that the Associated Press published what it purports to be an audio recording of high pitched undulating sounds which some embassy workers in Havana claim made them sick. Reports indicate that 22 US victims have suffered mysterious ailments after working at the embassy, including hearing, visual, cognitive, balance, sleep and other problems.

US Embassy in Havana, Cube. Image source: RNZ via AFP

Though it took over a year for the complaints to surface in the media, it all started in the fall of 2016. Several of the affected diplomats were recent arrivals at the embassy, which reopened in 2015 as part of Barack Obama’s reestablishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba. The various accounts were strange yet similar: one diplomat, for example, described being jolted awake in a Havana hotel room by a grinding, blaring cacophony. When he moved a few feet across the room, the noise stopped. When he got back into bed, the agonizing sound hit him again; as if, he told doctors, he had walked through some invisible wall cutting straight down the middle of his room. Multiple personnel also reported persisted nausea, nosebleeds, headaches, and dizziness while stationed in Cuba.

The US State Department has deemed the occurrence to be deliberate attacks, though US officials have stopped short of pointing the finger directly at the Cuban government. But The Guardian is now casting significant doubts on the US allegations even while its report acknowledged the new audio recording obtained by the AP.  

It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets. A high-pitched whine, but from what? It seems to undulate, even writhe. Listen closely: There are hear multiple, distinct tones that sound to some like they’re colliding in a nails-on-the-chalkboard effect.

The Guardian begins by citing Alan Carson, a consultant neuropsychiatrist and former president of the British Neuropsychiatry Association, who explained, “Typically what one gets in a functional disorder is some trigger. It is often relatively mild and non-specific, it can be a minor physical injury. But then a combination of a degree of anxiety and also belief and expectation distort that feeling.” Carson suggested that initial reports of US staff hearing strange sounds and experiencing unusual sensations could have triggered similar sensations in others: “If there is a strong enough expectation that something is going to happen, that will distort in an entirely real way the incoming information,” Carson said. “In certain circumstances that can be transmitted from person to person... If one person has that experience strongly enough and sets off that train of thought in somebody’s else’s mind, that can happen too.”

Sound waves from a sonic attack on the US Embassy in Cuba? Image source: New York Post

The report futher cites Mark Hallett, head of the human motor control section of the US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, to introduce the likely possibility of a "mass hysteria" phenomenon. Hallet said, “From an objective point of view it’s more like mass hysteria than anything else.” This involves possible "functional disorders" taking root among small groups of people based on the power of suggestion in high stress close working environments. The Guardian explains further:

“Mass hysteria” is the popular term for outbreaks among groups of people which are partly or wholly psychosomatic, but Hallett stressed there should be no blame attached to them.


“Psychosomatic disease is a disease like anything else. It shouldn’t be stigmatized,” said Hallett, who is also president of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology. “It’s important to point out that symptoms like this are not voluntary. They are not a sign of weakness in an individual’s personality.”

Hallet also noted the vagueness of the complains among the nearly two dozen embassy staff: “There are a very large number of individuals that have relatively vague complaints as far as I can see.” He said. “There has been an exploration of possible causes for this and nothing has been found and the notion of some sonic beam is relatively nonsensical."

“If it is mass hysteria that would clarify all the mystery – and presumably normalize US-Cuban relations again,” Hallett suggested. “These people are all clustered together in a somewhat anxious environment and that is exactly the situation that precipitates something like this. Anxiety may be one of the critical factors."

Audio released by the AP on Thursday purports to capture what American embassy staff heard in Cuba.

Jon Stone, a University of Edinburgh neurologist and leading author in the field also told The Guardan that such disorders were so frequent in society that it constitutes the second commonest reason people seek out neurologists. “There is a misconception that only people who are weak-willed, people who are neurotic, get these symptoms. It isn’t true,” Stone explained. “We are talking about genuine symptoms that people have of dizziness, of headaches, of hearing problems, which they are not faking.” Stone seconded Hallett's analysis of the mass hysteria phenomenon as "the outbreak could have started with one or two people falling ill with headaches or hearing problems, and those spread in a high-stress atmosphere and then amid talk of a 'sonic attack'."

One of the interviewed medical professionals went so far as to say it's likely that experts within American intelligence understand the "mass hysteria" possibility quite well. According to Dr. Robert Bartholomew, author and widely regarded expert on outbreaks of mass hysteria:

None of this makes sense until you consider the psychogenic explanation... American intelligence agencies are the most sophisticated in the world, and they reportedly don’t have a clue as to what’s causing the symptoms. I will bet my house that there are agents in the intelligence community who have also concluded that this is a psychogenic event – but their analysis is either being repressed or ignored by the Trump administration because it doesn’t fit their narrative. Mass psychogenic illness is by far the most plausible explanation.

Meanwhile The Guardian questioned the US State Department about the possibility of functional disorders, to which a spokesperson responded: “We have no definitive answers on the cause or the source of the attacks on US diplomats in Cuba, and an aggressive investigation continues. We do not want to get ahead of that investigation.”

We will be to the first to confess that the idea that this could all be much ado about nothing based on some kind of psychosomatic self-induced mass hysteria and panic event would be an explanation perhaps just as wildly unexpected and "out there" as the high tech sonic device attack scenario. Either one sounds like it could be the plot line for some sci-fi movie or X-Files type series.

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Giant Meteor's picture

You Ain't Nothin' But A Hound Dog !

Eyes Opened's picture

"You ain't nuttin but a SOUND dog"


So It Goes's picture

Sorry to disagree.  I'm happy that you personally can handle stress well.  But your one experience is an anecdonte - not science.  Not everyone is as capable as you appear to be.  Have some sympathy for those that suffer.

curbjob's picture

I think the normalcy bias that these people must have to endure would lead most people to lose their marbles.

They live amongst the Cubans, see the insanity of our foreign policy ,  and then have to champion that policy.

Blue Steel 309's picture

They were initially claiming mTBI which is highly doubtful, considering the diagnosis is based mostly on self reported symptoms.

More serious TBIs are objectively diagnosable.

dlfield's picture

It sounds a lot like the ringing in my left ear.

FoggyWorld's picture

Tinnutus which I have but to date no one has found the cause.   It doesn't seem to be catching though but appears to have more of a genetic cause.   Can't believe that a whole office would have it though.

TheEndIsNear's picture

Tinnitus is the result of hearing loss due either to aging or being exposed to loud noises as a youth, or both. The shortest (high frequency detectors) inner hair cells of the organ of Corti in the ear's cochlea seem to be the most susceptible and are the first to go. When the epithelial cells no longer receive any stimulus from the inner hair cells (or maybe they die off, I'm not sure) as I understand it, it's like a defective or open circuit which somehow results in constantly perceived sound at the frequencies at which hearing loss has occurred. It can be maddening for some and has even led to suicide, but most people (including myself) get used to it after awhile, or at least learn to live with it.

junction's picture

Incomplete explanation. Loud noises can cause tinnitus at any stage of life.  Lawmen in the 19th century West suffered from ringing in their ears due to their exposure to the noise from the handguns, if they practiced firing their guns a lot.  Damage to the acoustic nerve from a neuroma, a type of cancer, can also cause tinnitus.  Some antibiotics can cause total deafness, so there is a possibility that someone found a medication or drug that can cause partial deafness which jams up the acoustic nerve.  Leading to the question, did someone spike these CIA agents/diplomats' drinks in the bar they got drunk in?   

DisorderlyConduct's picture

Still incomplete. It can be from genetics or nothing we know of. I've had tinnitus all my life. Every day. But when other sounds are present they overshadow it. It never gets better or worse. You learn to deal with it.

junction's picture

Supposedly, white people have a genetic predisposition to acoustic neuromas. Acoustic neuromas can also cause Bell's Palsy if the cancerous growth is large enough to cause facial nerve paralysis.  My mother had tinnitus and it is very hard to deal with. 

IH8OBAMA's picture

What!!!!?????  Somebody turn off that damn buzzing alarm.


Eyes Opened's picture

"Supposedly, white people have a genetic predisposition to acoustic neuromas. "


Is that why its called white noise ??

Pink noise only affects LGBT's ...or so I HEAR ..    LOL

VoteSmarts's picture

Another explanation is, allergies and the congested head.

WillyGroper's picture

EMF causes tinnitus.

search NMRI 1972 pages 7-11.

i'd venture to guess, the audio was a distraction from testing some new wicked inaudible ELF.

FullHedge1's picture

They really think we're fucking retards, don't they?

knukles's picture


 I think we're a buncha retards, too.  Now can I have a free soda now like you promised?

Stan522's picture

Not at all.... they are merely using the democrat party method, which is simply deny until they are stopped being asked......

Schmuck Raker's picture

Give them some of the meds Congress is on.

07564111's picture

Maybe they did...testing, testing.

gilhgvc's picture

well, you would have to be nuts to work for the US Govt and bat shit crazy to agree to go to cuba, so..........................

knukles's picture

Man's got a point ....

Rusty Shorts's picture

Everything looks normal at Guantanamo Bay Cuba, no problems here.

Forty Six and 2's picture

Coulda swore those ANTIFA protesters getting trained up.


house biscuit's picture

So a group of neurologists have examined the data & come to the conclusion that since they don't know what's going on, the problem must exist in peoples' imaginations. May as well break out the Nobel Prizes & save the wait.

not dead yet's picture

Shrinks and economists, both trying to figure out the human mind.  They talk a lot and produce theories but they don't have clue. Collect nice paychecks they do.

espirit's picture

.Gov must be getting tight on the Benni's.

...or is it just State Department?

Kanjiklub's picture

Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t think I should listen to this recording, just in case.............the whole ‘listen closely’ thing seems like a setup

83_vf_1100_c's picture

  Stephen King's The Cell?

Hikikomori's picture

It's the sound of Harvey Weinstein grabbing a pussy, at 3/4 speed, played backwards.

A Sentinel's picture

It's hot and humid but they have some damned good cigars.

Freedumb's picture

Don't listen to the recording, it will turn you into a manchurian candidate sleeper agent!

flacorps's picture

A genius guerilla marketing campaign for a new series of "The Outer Limits" ... you're hearing the sound from the classic 1960s intro:

PodissNM's picture

Dogs and cats living together, Mass Hysteria!

RayKu's picture

4Hz infrasound at high decibels can have the affects described. It sure as hell isn't the sound from this article that did the damage.

I Write Code's picture

Presumably the audible noise would be undertones from some freaking powerful ultrasound, that ought to also be breaking glasses and making the fillings jump out of your teeth.

Or maybe highly amplitude modulated microwaves, but that would cause audio hallucinations, you would never catch it on a microphone, I don't think.

Eyes Opened's picture

"Or maybe highly amplitude modulated microwaves"

Do happen to have a schematic of this device ??

MOSFET final drive.?? Or maybe IGBTs  ??...... lol

DisorderlyConduct's picture

Well you have to remember that sampling wide band audio into a system only intended for a narrow band will cause aliasing. So at best you're hearing a badly recorded harmonic of the fundamental. The only way to know what they 'heard' - if hearing really has anything to do with it - is to see a full band sampling of the audio. If you can really call it audio.

You would also need to pull SPL levels from different locations in the room - clearly the reports describe peaks and nodes in the room. Which may also be aliases into the audible range by their ears. In other words, the damage was likely caused by something they could not hear, but subharmonics could appear in the audible range. If it happened at all.

Yes I know what I'm talking about. What's on that recording may be a fingerprint of the effect, but it's not likely to be THE effect. And any 'audio experts' that listened to that and gave any sort of pronouncement - pro or con - is no expert.

Eyes Opened's picture

U mean kinda like a binaural beat ?? Where the subjects head becomes the mixer producing IFs...  ?

samsara's picture

Yes , with a different frequency carrier you cab hear voices.

Dr. Richard Alan Miller did work on that.
He did the early work for the Gov.

U4 eee aaa's picture

mass hysteria...


peddling-fiction's picture

<subliminal recording> Obey your masters. CNN is good, truthful news...

<glazed eyes, and drooling a bit> Yes master. Everything is fine...

tripletail's picture

This is project Northwords II. This time, instead, of shooting down a US airliner full of Americans as a pretext to war on Cuba, we have used fake sonic attacks on fake US diplomats. An attack on Cuba is most imminent. /s

Best read using your most sincere imitation of John Cleese.

novictim's picture

...and if you listen long enough to this, day after day, you suddenly start to realize that Stalin was right, that Mao was a genius and that Hugo Chavez is the second coming.  Pol Pot DID NOTHING WRONG! 


That is when your nose starts to bleed. 

FoggyWorld's picture

Ah, you must be a Guardian subscriber.