Technology has made the world a much easier place in some ways. Where once we had to travel by foot to get very far, or communicate via written letter now we have a world of information available to us with the click of a button. It’s impossible to ignore this world of high technology even if it seems at times to be more trouble than it’s worth. But what if you suffered from a condition that made technology not only difficult to live with, but actually harmful to your health? What if you realized one day that you would have to live by candlelight in conditions very similar to the 1800’s simply because you could not medically be around technology? This is the basic premise of a controversial disease known as ES or Electro-sensitivity.
The condition goes by several names, but the basic condition is often the same. Sufferers report that simply being around fields of electromagnetic radiation causes them a host of ill effects. These effects can range widely in their description but ultimately result in increased suffering on the part of the afflicted. They report a constant dull ringing in the ears (known more commonly as tinnitus), headaches, skin conditions, and general overall negatively affected health. Of these sufferers, the population distribution can vary widely from region to region with some areas having larger populations of self-diagnosed cases reporting symptoms than others.
Sufferers also range in intensity and how seriously the condition effects their general well-being. Some sufferers find themselves completely changed, unfortunately requiring they look into alternatives to many modern conveniences the rest of the population enjoys. Rather than depending on light bulbs they need to resort to candles or oil lamps. Rather than use a computer, they depend on books. And of course the idea of owning a cell phone is completely out. They live in areas far away from radio towers and cell phone signal boosters, instead depending on simpler technology from a bygone era.
Paradoxical ES forums on the internet provide sufferers of this rare condition with an outlet to disclose how it has affected their lives. In addition to supporting one another, these individuals are overwhelmed by a world where technology seems to be advancing and proliferating too fast and leaving some individuals behind.
But how much evidence is there that ES is a real condition? Thousands of sufferers say it’s a serious problem that likely affects more than their own base under the guise of other illnesses. The World Health Organization looked into the matter and found that patients who suffered from this condition were sincere in their beliefs. And yet there were other things, such as a difficulty in detecting when precisely it would affect sufferers. Double blind studies where sufferers were placed near machines not plugged in would often return results suggesting there was a “nocebo” element. Still others placed in proximity to machines that were secretly emitting higher levels of EM radiation out of sight were affected less. While studies into the condition continue, electro-sensitivity has become another controversial illness on the edge of our current medical understanding.