The role of the press and the medical community in the epidemic of "mysterious gas poisoning" in the Jordan West Bank

Am J Psychiatry. 1985 Jul;142(7):833-7. doi: 10.1176/ajp.142.7.833.


In March and April 1983, an epidemic of "mysterious gas poisoning" occurred in the Jordan West Bank region, affecting more than 900 persons, predominantly schoolgirls. That both Arabs and Israelis believed there was an etiologic poisonous substance reflected their longstanding conflict. Israeli newspaper reports, opinions by Arab and Israeli physicians, and the emotional climate in Djenin Hospital contributed to the generation and propagation of this belief. The author discusses the specific difficulties he met in investigating the outbreak.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Child
  • Disease Outbreaks / psychology*
  • Female
  • Gas Poisoning / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Hysteria / psychology*
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Male
  • Mass Behavior
  • Newspapers as Topic*
  • Physicians
  • Politics
  • Psychology, Social
  • Warfare