Hysteria or Mysteria?

An interesting confluence of two stories that crossed the Grail news-desk yesterday. Firstly, there's this story about an 'outbreak' at a New York school where 19 people (18 girls, 1 boy) "have developed a sudden-onset disorder with symptoms similar to the movement disorder Tourette’s syndrome."

Several of the girls report that the symptoms seemed to come out of nowhere — one minute they were asleep, the next they had woken and developed uncontrollable movements and vocalizations. Their tics could be dramatic: arms twitching or jolting out to one side, speech chopped up by nonsense utterings, head jerking, eyes blinking. Some girls have also had blackouts and seizures.

Thus far, no physical causes have been found that explain the symptoms, and eight of the girls have been now diagnosed with 'conversion disorder', or mass hysteria. This seems an odd explanation though, given the long period of 'contamination' and lack of social contact between those suffering from the symptoms.

Coincidentally another link that I came across at the same time discussed the 'Dancing Mania' that occurred from the 14th to 17th centuries in Europe:

As early as the year 1374, strange episodes of dancing mania were reported across Europe. No obvious pattern or triggers to the outbreaks, just large gatherings of men and women of all ages,Dancing Mania forming circles and dancing for hours at a time, often until they collapsed with exhaustion...

...Priests, town councils, and local rulers were all alarmed by the dancing mania. The Church blamed the dancing mania on demonic possession and fought it with all the tools at their disposal. Along with frequent sermons directed at the dancers, churches conducted long religious festivals designed to stop the dancers. Although a few priests even resorted to exorcisms, 250px-Die_Wallfahrt_der_Fallsuechtigen_nach_Meulebeeck[1]nothing seemed to keep the dancers down for long. While the priests did what they could, local governments resorted to more direct approaches including having the dancers beaten with sticks and even banning the wearing of round-toed shoes in some places (which made dancing harder).

Although the dancers often burned themselves out after a few months, the relative calm afterward rarely lasted long. As the dancing stopped in one part of Europe, new outbreaks would happen in other parts.

All rather strange, and a testament to how little we still understand about the human mind (or even 'spirit', if that is the case).


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jupiter.enteract's picture
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My friend Rick Tarnas has also noted the curious history of the upstate New York area where these young people have been acting strange--in particular, the famous Fox sisters incident in 1848 (often cited as the birth of modern spiritualism).

Greg's picture
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jupiter.enteract wrote:

My friend Rick Tarnas has also noted the curious history of the upstate New York area where these young people have been acting strange--in particular, the famous Fox sisters incident in 1848 (often cited as the birth of modern spiritualism).

Nice point Ray. :)

Kind regards,
You monkeys only think you're running things

Helgarde's picture
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There is also the possibility of environmental contaminants at the school site--currently, some neurologists who have examined the kids have said that there is no physical cause for their illness, while one neurologist is convinced that there is some sort of chemical contamination involved.

The school district claims that the four natural gas wells on the school's property have shown no sign of being involved in the illness, but what does one expect them to say when you have parents hiring lawyers?

Personally, I think it may be a combination of some girls' nervous systems being affected by some environmental poison, with perhaps some of the other girls becoming affected by the girls who are actually ill out of stress and fearfulness over what is going on.

It would be interesting to remove the girls from the school, and put them into another school to see what happens.

All of this said, I don't think it is a simple mass hysteria case--not that any of those cases are simple to start out with! But it is interesting, and is something worth investigating.

emlong's picture
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We tend to think of mass hysteria as being entirely psychological suggestion, but there is just as likely a conveyance of effect via the so called "paranormal" route. Of course there have been lots of experiments with psychological contamination. I remember vividly the one in which an actor faked an epileptic seizure in a supermarket aisle which caused people to faint and convulse all over the place. That was obviously suggestion, but I have also watched so called ghosts get under the skin of groups of people all at once, so this sort of stuff can be multifarious.

Greg H.'s picture
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In Michael Talbot's Holographic Universe he discusses the idea that mind and reality are interwoven citing studies using soldiers who were told they were marching a certain distance say 20 miles but marched either further or shorter distances in the tests. The results being the physiological effects on the soldiers regardless of whether they marched the longer or shorter distance then the given distance matched those who actually marched the given distance.

He also cited studies where a group of people confined to a room were given amphetamines except one test subject who was given a sedative, but the sedative recipient acted the same as the amphetamine recipients. The converse proved true as well - in another test all were given sedatives except one who was given a stimulant, but fell asleep along with the rest.

These results mimic the placebo effect, which including these students suggest one possibility is the psychological power of suggestion - that is what our mind believes it makes a reality within its body, or perhaps mind even interacts with and shapes the fabric of reality as in a holographic universe concept...

Greg H.

LastLoup's picture
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either that or dare I say the greatest prank to ever have been pulled on Anderson Cooper ever...

(you never know, the girls at Salem pretended to be possessed simply because they didn't like certain people and were bored.)

...I forgot how I got here but everyone seems to be heading off in that direction. I hope someone brought food. I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey................