Year

2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Psychology

Abstract

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS), more formally known as Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance attributed to Electromagnetic Fields (IEI-EMF), is a controversial condition characterised by the experience of a broad range of non-specific symptoms which a person attributes to the electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted by everyday electronic and wireless technologies. In contrast to growing anecdotal reports of sensitivity to EMF, much of the existing literature has not found evidence that exposure to EMF can result in the symptoms reported by IEI-EMF sufferers. Instead, the condition is thought to be the result of a nocebo effect, where conscious or subconscious symptom expectation leads to the development and detection of symptoms. Yet, despite decades of research, IEI-EMF sufferers and a minority of scientists argue that the symptoms are caused by exposure to EMF, via some as-yet unrecognised bioelectromagnetic mechanism.

In an effort to resolve the aetiological debate, this thesis aimed to clarify whether toxicogenic or psychogenic processes can explain the symptoms reported by IEI-EMF sufferers. Specifically, a number of methodological issues were addressed to more clearly determine whether individuals can be sensitive to EMF exposure, or whether psychogenic processes play a role in the presentation of symptoms attributed to EMF exposure.

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