Scourge War Syndrome is a psycho-physiological phenomenon that afflicts a small percentage of combatants in the war against the Scourge. Although there is no conclusive diagnosis as to what actually causes or even are the staple symptons of the disorder, a cluster of symptoms and illnesses are prevalent in many people that suffer from SWS, making them markers for a person that may be at risk of harboring the illness.
Prevalence in GroupsEdit
Although Scourge War Syndrome is not a large enough disorder to be considered an epidemic, enough people have been afflicted with it in order to provide statistics for those who will more than likely fall victim to it.
Women are generally more likely to succumb to the illness than men, although more men have been reported with it due to the disparity between females and males in the military. In a study provided by the Stormwind Physican's Association, more women were identified as "being capable of possessing such an illness if it existed" than men; however, because the trials were largely conducted by men, the results are often debated and considered sexist. In spite of this, a larger percentage of women have come forth with their claims of infection, though it is possible that men simply do not wish to say they are ill.
Melee combatants, particularly warriors, are known to suffer more frequently from the disorder than those who prefer range in their combat. Priests are surprisingly susceptible to SWS despite their lack of melee contact with the enemy. Some believe that their faith is shaken greatly in what they witness, and this leads to the symptoms described in later parts of this page.
As the races are concerned, humans are the most susceptible to Scourge War Syndrome while gnomes are the least. Another possible explanation is that after the fall of Gnomeregan, psychological disorders are commonplace enough not to be considered disorders at all. Draenei seem to be fairly resistant to the Syndrome; however, this could also be due to their supposed immortality. Dwarves and Night Elves have been known to suffer, but generally do not succumb to the illness quite as readily as humans.
Nationalities of humans vary, but more survivors of Lordaeron are afflicted, more than likely due to the amount of loss they suffered during the eventually collapse of Lordaeron. Because the mind of a gnome is always active, it is believed they simply do not have time to process many of the symptoms necessary for SWS to be diagnosed. Members from the Kingdom of Stormwind have also been known to show signs of SWS.
Of the Horde races, only Blood Elves have generally displayed signs of SWS and in those cases, they are more likely to develop the physiological than the psychological traits.
Although there is no currently working theory of what symptoms are related and which are not, empirical evidence reveals that with the physiological side of the disorder include: Fatigue, Dyspepsia, Gastro-intestinal Bleeding, Arthritis, Skin Conditions, Seizures, Light Sensitivity, Fever, and in some cases a lowered immunity system.
The psychological disorders include: Pavor Nocturnus and other parasomnia disorders, Catatonia, Anxiety Disorders ("Panic Attacks"), Mental Fatigue, Paranoia, Uncontrollable Rage, Amnesia, Dementia, Aphasia, and in some cases suicidal tendencies.
While this broad spectrum view of what may or may not constitute SWS is ridiculed by many, if a person is known to have more than 5 of the traits listed on either of the sides of the disorder, then they are believed to be victims of SWS. In the case of Anxiety, although panic attacks are generally the most tell-tale sign, other things such as extreme social reclusiveness, introversion, or social anxiety are also valid markers.
Some research has been placed into what causes SWS. The current theory is that because of the valiance contagions that wafts off of scourged beasts, the immune system will produce powerful antibodies to protect itself against infection. After a prolonged period of time, these cells become extremely powerful and resistant, but also aggressive. As long as the subject is kept within combat the antibodies have something to attack, but once combat has ended if something such as a cold or fever besets the subject, the antibodies attack it with ruthless aggression and bring about physical pain to the body. Eventually this can lead to serious damage, as inflammation and infection result from the prolonged war of the antibodies against their host.
Psychologically, the cause is simply the mind's inability to process all that it witnesses. Many of the combatants in the war against the Scourge are generally townsfolk or militiamen that have never before been braced for the horrors of war, or even the concept of what their foes are capable of. When this is factored in with the fact that many of their enemies are former loved ones risen to fight against them, the mind erects something of a threshold against its own terror if only to survive. This is an effective method in keeping a combatant from freezing in battle, but after combat if any situation that might cause an adrenal rush occurs -- a sudden noise, or a surprise, the subject will instantly relapse into a part of the horror they had forgotten. Nightmares are known to increasingly cause these reactions, in which the victims of SWS are incapable of rising to be rid of their terrors, and must live through whatever horrors they experienced. Victims may experience extreme fear or uncontrollable rage as reactions to the feelings of terror that wash over them.
There is currently no known cure for Scourge War Syndrome, and the Stormwind Physician's Association has not confirmed or denied its existence. Despite this, it is believed that strict training regiments and thorough information on what soldiers are to expect when they enter combat for the first time against the Scourge may help. Additionally, desensitization therapy may be necessary to help distinguish the memories of loved ones from the horrors that they have become.