I have written before about odd accounts of mass hysteria. There was the strange dancing plague where people spontaneously burst into fits of dancing. Then there was the laughing epidemic in Tanzania where students at a school caught the laughing bug and would be thrown into fits of laughter for days at a time. What started with 3 girls soon spread to close to 200. While these happened some time ago, BBC news have reported a much more recent episode involving 39 screaming girls.
In July last year at a school in North East Malaysia, Siti Nurannisaa seemed to be at the center of a large incident.
According to BBC News in her words:
The assembly bells rang.
I was at my desk feeling sleepy when I felt a hard, sharp tap on my shoulder.
I turned round to see who it was and the room went dark.
Fear overtook me. I felt a sharp, splitting pain in my back and my head started spinning. I fell to the floor.
Before I knew it, I was looking into the 'otherworld'. Scenes of blood, gore and violence.
The scariest thing I saw was a face of pure evil.
It was haunting me, I couldn't escape. I opened my mouth and tried to scream but no sound came out.
I passed out.
Within minutes, her classmates followed suit. 39 girls felt that they were in danger of dark shadow or unseen force. Screaming in panic, they barricaded themselves into the classroom. Islamic spiritual healers were brought in to conduct mass prayer sessions. Psychologists believe it to be a case of mass hysteria fueled by the countries' deep religious roots. In fact, it is not the first time there has been such an incident. There was a similar incident in 2016
The BBC reports that in 2016, there were several similar incidents across schools in Malaysia which actually shut the schools down. Siti Ann who was a part of the 2016 outbreak spoke to BBC News:
The scare lasted hours but it took months for life to return to normal,
My schoolmates said they saw an elderly woman standing amongst the trees.
I couldn't see what they saw but their reactions were real.
It is believed that the country's fascination with ghosts could be the catalyst for such incidents. Many of the students believed their school was haunted. The children are brought up hearing stories of scary entities who are all presented as 'evil'. A lot of these stories are connected with trees and burial grounds so psychologists believe that these incidents could be sparked by person thinking they are seeing something by the trees. In fact after the above incident, all of the trees surrounding the school were removed. While locals believe these to be supernatural occurrence, others believe it is a case of mass hysteria.
Mass hysteria is defined as a collective illusion whether it is real or imaginary where essentially a group of people all believe they are experiencing the same thing. What starts with one person soon spreads. In the first case, it started with one girl and spread to her 39 class mates.
Spiritual healer Zaki Ya does not believe the incident was mass hysteria and believes it is related to a Jinn. A Jinn is considered to be an intelligent spirit looking to posesses a human and can take the form of other humans or animals. In essence, it is similar to what people describe a demon to be. Zaki Ya is often brought in to perform exorcisms on what he believes are affected victims.
Science is important but it can't fully explain the supernatural," he says. "Non-believers won't understand these attacks unless it happens to them."
Another team of healers have a highly controversial anti hysteria kit which they sell to the schools since it has become such a common occurence.
According to the Koran, evil spirits are unable to tolerate such items," says Dr Mahyuddin Ismail, who developed the kit with the aim of "combining science and the supernatural".
"Our kits have been used by two schools and solved more than 100 cases," he says. There's no scientific evidence to back up these claims.
Malaysia is considered to be the mass hysteria capital of the world with the most conservative areas devoted to religion reported to have the most outbreaks. We know how much religion can affect the way we interpret things we believe to be paranormal. While this is an extreme example, it shows just how deeply an individual can be influenced by religious and cultural beliefs as well as the power of suggestion. Psychologists believe the way to treat this kind of hysteria is to integrate mental health treatment with supernatural beliefs and believe that the controversial hysteria kit could be useful in helping to treat the patients.
To see the full and original BBC News article click here: The mystery of screaming girls in Malaysia
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