Minbari War Syndrome (MWS) is a mental disorder affecting Earthforce soldiers who fought in the Earth-Minbari War. It is characterized as a type of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), wherein human soldiers suffer a psychological break after witnessing the apparent superiority of a technologically-advanced and possibly more-evolved species, in this case, the Minbari.
During the Earth-Minbari War, after the escalation resulting from the death of Anla'shok Na Lenonn, Earthforce ground troops engaged in many battles where they went hand-to-hand with Minbari warriors. They were consistently outmatched and lost every engagement due to the Minbari commitment to the struggle. The Minbari continued to fight no matter how great their injuries nor the loss of blood and would eventually overwhelm their opponents.
This was not only limited to face-to-face engagements, but also engagements where the Earthforce Space Corps fleet engaged the Minbari warcruisers. The technological advantage of the Minbari could not be surmounted by existing Earth tech, even ten years after the end of the war. The incredible weapons and defensive capabilities of the Minbari - including their insurmountable stealth technology - were sufficient to not only defeat Earth ships, but also to instill a lasting sense of terror in the survivors.
As the war went on, the few human soldiers who remained began suffering the effects similar to PTSD. Coupled with the awe and terror at having to face a race as advanced as the Minbari for the very survival of their species, this gave rise to Minbari War Syndrome.
The general pathology of MWS is not too dissimilar from PTSD. Those affected by it tend to suffer from flashbacks and nightmares of their experiences in the war. Furthermore, those afflicted with these mental images tend not to speak of them, unless first prompted.
Where MWS differs from PTSD are in the more severe symptoms. Those suffering from MWS begin to sympathize with the object of fixation - the Minbari - and start forming a false sense of familiarity with them. This is similar to Stockholm syndrome. When face-to-face with a species so culturally, technologically, and genetically advanced, they tend to apply a form of moral and/or spiritual superiority to them as well. For a race so advanced to still exist beyond its adolescence, they must be closer to the truth - closer to God - than humanity.
Humanity experienced a similar situation when they first encountered the Centauri, 100 years before the war. However, upon opening relations with and getting to know the species, all appearances of superiority - other than slightly-more-advanced technology - were quickly shattered. As the Minbari were largely a mystery, even up to the end of the war and beyond, it cemented the pathology of MWS as being far different and far more destructive.
Some of the more violent symptoms included suffering psychotic break, in which the victim begins to lose touch with their humanity. In an effort to support their false sense of familiarity with the Minbari, they abandon the culture and belief systems with which they were raised. They even turn to violence against their fellow man, and a few even suffer a surgical fixation, altering themselves physically so as to resemble the Minbari.
ISN reporter Dan Randall discussed the nature of Minbari War Syndrome with Dr. William Indiri during an exposé into the goings-on aboard Babylon 5 after its break with Earthgov. The report was part of the propaganda machine in support of the Clark administration, aimed at discrediting the once-Earth-aligned station, casting the actions of Captain John Sheridan - once a hero of the war - as symptoms of MWS. They stated that he could not be held liable for his actions, that it was all due to outside, alien influences aimed at undermining Earth.
Known / Possible CasesEdit
- Jeffrey Sinclair - Commander Sinclair was the sole survivor of a Starfury squadron that defended Earth at the Battle of the Line. Though being decorated with one of Earthforce's highest honors - the Silver Star for Valor - he kept the medal packed away and did not display it openly. Even years after the end of the war, he was still haunted by waking nightmares of his crew shot down one after another, that he did not witness only the threat of his own death, but the death of his entire species. Upon being questioned, he revealed that he knew that there was no way they defeated the Minbari, that they gave up on their own.
- Michael Garibaldi - Warrant Officer Michael Garibaldi was a member of the Earthforce Marine Corps during the war. While not part of the Battle of the Line, he did face the Minbari in combat on several occasions. After the war, he left the EFMC and joined the Earthforce Security Corps, maintaining the security of Earth's off-world bases. Even so, he still suffered from nightmares for many years to come, further exacerbating his alcoholism, and finally sought counseling to help with his problems.
- Amis - Another member of the Earthforce Marine Corps, Amis was stationed at a listening post set up to spy on a local Minbari staging area. During his time defending the post, his group was attacked by a Soldier of Darkness. The trauma suffered during the event made him suffer both waking hallucinations and vivid nightmares for over a decade afterward, where he continually struggled against the forces attacking the walls of the post.
- John Sheridan - While only a possible case, Captain John Sheridan could also suffer from MWS due to similar symptoms to those of Commander Sinclair as well as a "long-distance session" conducted en abstentia by Dr. Indiri in his ISN interview. Like Sinclair, Sheridan knew all-too-well that humanity did not actually win the war, but that the Minbari rather gave up their conquest and allowed them to live. As the only human captain to survive a battle with a Minbari warship and even managing to destroy one, he knew how powerful the Minbari are but eventually realized that they could be beaten. Ironically, this served him well as he led the Army of Light - aided by the remaining First Ones - against the combined forces of the Vorlons and Shadows in the Second Shadow War. He learned that just because he did not understand them, it did not mean he had to fear them.