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Contested IllnessesCitizens, Science, and Health Social Movements$
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Phil Brown, Rachel Morello-Frosch, and Stephen Zavestoski

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780520270206

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520270206.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 19 May 2022

A Narrowing Gulf of Difference?

A Narrowing Gulf of Difference?

Disputes and Discoveries in the Study of Gulf War–Related Illnesses

(p.79) 6 A Narrowing Gulf of Difference?
Contested Illnesses

Phil Brown

Stephen Zavestoski

Alissa Cordner

Sabrina McCormick

Joshua Mandelbaum

Theo Luebke

Meadow Linder

University of California Press

This chapter examines the dramatic shifts in scientific and public controversies over myriad symptoms reported by veterans of the 1991 Gulf War. Early theories of Gulf War illnesses centered on stress as the dominant cause. The dominant epidemiological paradigm now attributes the illness to contextual stress. The acceptance of this new paradigm may be cemented by emerging scientific findings pointing to specific chemical causes. This paradigm shift culminated in a recent federal report concluding that “scientific evidence leaves no question that Gulf War Illness is a real condition with real causes and serious consequences for affected veterans.” Because paradigms change slowly, the chapter suggests that future research might explore how the dominant epidemiological paradigm changes over much longer periods.

Keywords:   Gulf War Illness, stress, epidemiological paradigm, contextual stress, chemical exposure

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