Mass Hysteria


Gone But Not Forgotten
Mar 17, 2002
See Here
A Nairobi primary school, which was closed earlier this week due to fears that pupils were under an evil spell was closed again yesterday.

Trouble started at Dandora Primary School in Dandora Phase 1 during the 8am assembly when four pupils collapsed, and started yelling and rolling on the ground claiming they been possessed by evil spirits.

"We were praying and four Standard Eight pupils collapsed and started yelling and rolling on the ground just like it happened on Monday," said Caro Wairimu, a Standard Seven pupil. "The four were some of the seven who had collapsed on Monday."
My class do that all the time, it would be kind of hard to tell if they were possessed! :p
I used to do that, but i think it was the horsehair underwear to blame!
Why do I keep reading this thread as "School slut . . ."

And why do I keep clicking on it? :eek:
I could probably answer that question, but I won't. ;)
Sexual abuse by goblin

I found this on a newsgroup called alt.misc.forteana
Tuesday 30, July

Daily News (Zimbabwe)

Headmaster flees as hysteria grips school

7/30/02 9:01:43 AM (GMT +2)

by Staff Reporter

THE headmaster of St Mark’s Secondary School in Mhondoro has
fled the school following accusations by parents that he
possesses goblins which have sexually harassed female
students and teachers.

Last Wednesday, the school was closed over the allegations
which have sent shock-waves throughout the rural community.

Angry parents were on Tuesday collecting their children from
the school, demanding to see the headmaster, who was
understood to have fled the school.

Reporters arriving at the school heard female students and
teachers complain of sexual harassment and of being beaten
up by "invisible objects".

Most students had by late Wednesday afternoon left the
school while the remaining few could be seen milling around,
waiting for their parents to come and take them home.
Teachers said those affected by the activities of the
alleged goblins would behave in a strange manner,
characterised by hysteria.

"I witnessed one incident when a student went into a
trance," said a teacher who refused to be named for fear of

"He was demanding meat, threatening that after finishing
with the students, the spirits would attack the teachers
next. We are living in fear here."

The incidents have disrupted the mid-year examinations which
were in progress at the school. Schools are due to close for
holidays on 1 August.

The school’s deputy headmaster was evasive about the alleged
evil spirits at the school and referred all questions to the
regional offices of the Ministry of Education, Sports and
Culture in Chegutu.

"As far as we are concerned, things are normal here. We will
still carry on with lessons with the remaining students and
life goes on," he said.

The deputy headmaster would not allow his name to be
published because of Public Services regulations.

Ignatius Angara, the District Education Officer for
Mhondoro, confirmed the incidents had been reported to their

"We have heard that the children are praying about it, but I
can’t really say much. We are still investigating," said
Angara. Reverend Rinashe of the Anglican Church, which runs
the school, said there was no need for all the panic.

He said: "Everything is now back to normal and I understand
lessons have resumed." But some of the teachers said it was
highly unlikely that lessons would continue as schools were
about to close soon anyway.

The mysterious incidents started about six weeks ago when
students complained of being harassed by "mysterious beings"
during the night, believed to be goblins, known in Shona as
zvikwambo, mubobobo or as tokoloshe in Zulu.

"About 30 students have been victims of the attacks and we
can’t bear spending another night at this haunted place,"
said a student.

"A friend of mine was bitten on the arm after she wrestled
with a ghost which wanted to sleep with her," she said.

A number of female teachers are reportedly contemplating
leaving the school.

The teachers put some of their allegations in writing for
the benefit of reporters. They allege they are being
sexually abused by mysterious entities at night.

"Sometimes we get up in the morning to find the bedding
mysteriously wet and we suspect foul play," says the

One teacher said at the height of the incidents, many
students joined the school’s Scripture Union (SU) group
where they held regular prayer meetings in the hope the evil
spirits would be exorcised.

The headmaster was allegedly annoyed with this development.
He is said to have acted against the SU.
This isn't the same school where they closed it because the kids were possessed is it?
If it is, then this is at least a different article and offers a new slant. Are they from the same country? If so the threads should be merged :rolleyes:

EDIT this is ind mhondoro, zambia, not in nairobi
is this the same story then? or a similar one, as this one is not in nairobi? I checked both the stories, and i thought that they were different but similar
Nairobi is in Kenya. So this Zambian tale is new to the board!
Thanks for posting it.

Of course, rynner might still decide to squish all African School
tales together. :p
hysteria in african schools

Meanwhile, a side-show in the strange sag was introduced when some villagers claimed in meetings with education officials that the problem was caused by witchcraft.

They, therefore, demanded that a traditional doctor be brought in to solve the problem which, they claimed, has defeated modern medicine. But school administrators refused to heed the call.
Cultural Hysteria

Hullo all,

Forgive any shocking errors, this is my first post, although I have lurked about (absorbing knowledge & nonsense in pretty much equal quantities) for quite some time. Anyway, as the thread title hopefully suggests, I'm currently researching cultural hysteria (or the psychogenic epidemics, or whatever...) at university and thought that it would be a great idea (read: save me work) if I asked you fine people for suggestions as to individual case studies I could look into.

I'm only a few weeks into the course, and I've got some fairly broad ideas, but I thought that a collection of sharp minds like yours may throw up a few quirky examples. Just to give you an idea, I'm using incidences like the Cock-Lane ghost mystery of 1762 and the Fox sisters' Rochester Rappings' of 1848 to reveal deeper, possibly archetypal patterns in society. I was interested to read the recent posts on Spring-Heeled Jack and wondered whether anyone else has had any similar (perhaps less well-known) examples of those weird times when a proportion of society goes a little bonkers for a while.

I'm more interested in 'historical' and less-supernatural cases at the moment, but any ideas would be interesting to read nonetheless.

Cheers Guys

BTW, before any bright spark points it out, I know my user name is spelt wrongly, but I can't be bothered to do 'owt about it at the moment...
This is seriously interesting,Ytthian, but all I can think of off hand is the Salem which trials, and that is trey supernatural. Sorry. I'll try to come up with somthing better while off-line tonight. I'm sure there are quite a few occurances...

Ah! Wait!---Here in the U.S.
--The Orson Wells' Halloween radio broadcast (sorry, don't know the year--sometime during the U.S./Russian 'Cold War'). Folks believed that the Earth was actually being invaded by creatures from Mars, even though it was announced several times during the program that it was just a play. There truly was a panic all over the area reached by the broadcast (a version of 'War of the Wolrds') As I recall, one man actaully shot his family then himself to avoid being captured by the aliens.:eek!!!!:
This possibly may be too localised for your needs, but it surely fills the 'hysteria' bill!HTH!
Don't forget the "Pokemon made my children have fits" hysteria attacks covered in the lead FT article a few months ago. It's the one with Pikachu on the cover :D

That article probably has some good reference points too.


This article, in fact! :)

you might find this useful too.

And not forgetting the recent mass hysteria over anthrax - a very amusing article by Jon Ronson.
Isn't mass hysteria a big theory for Monkey Man? Terrorized people in New Delhi about a year or so ago.
(Turned into a sweet comic book character by on Brian Lynch, but that is besides the point and a total random plug.)

Also, monkey man's replacement... forgot what its called. But something else is now terrorizing the poor New Delhians.

Springheeled Jack? Heard thats similar to Monkey Man (steel claws, leeping, face scratching, etc). Did he cause a public panic?

Y2K was a type of mass hysteria, although luckily it didn't get too out of hand.
Whether justified or not, the furore about the MMR vaccine, and on-going protests about the erection of cell-phone masts, could be worth looking at.

In both cases large sections of the public get all worked up about perceived dangers, with very little real discussion of known (or at least discoverable) facts.
For bogus social workers, refered to by Mothfox, there is a thread about it on Urban Legends.
Bogus social workers, paedophiles (online and otherwise), dangerous dogs, Satanic cults in America, Swedish "ghost rockets", the mad gasser of Mattoon, Chupacabras, penis-snatchers in India, lyrics of rock music turning kids into murderers, youth cultures (from mods to nu-metal)... these have all been moral panics at some point.

Reccomended reading...

'Folk Devils and Moral Panics', Stanley Cohen
'Satanic Panic", Jeffrey S Victor
Fortean Studies 6, ed. Steve Moore
May I just note that I respect The Ythian ultimately for his/her captain beefheart sig line?
Mothfox, did you ever notice your forum ID is 1666? :eek:
Another example of 'cultural hysteria' would be the successful UK anti-horror comics campaign of the early 50s: a researcher in the 80s made a good case for the whole campaign being orchestrated by the Communist Party as an exercise in blatant anti-Americanism (it was quite seperate from the Dr. Werthem-inspired anti-comics campaign in the US).

There's a book on it called A Haunt of Fears by Martin Barker.
thanks people

Cheers everyone, many good ideas and things to look into, some new to me and some already considered. The monkey man, of course: I should have remembered this one in particular. A little cross-cultural comparison should make me seem like a well-read chap. Good thinking, Batman.

Dark Detective, the only reason I referred to 'cultural' hysteria was to emphasise the angle I shall be examining said phenomena from. Obviously, any such outbreaks are grounded in and constituted by individuals' behaviour, but O am more concerned with the genesis and spread of psychogenic illnesses that (perhaps) move through societies by contagion like any other disease.

I'm hoping to work around to / find evidence that, hysteria acts as a kind of therapeutic proto-language on both an individual and a cultural level for those individuals and groups marginalised/ignored/silenced by society and denied both their individual and historical 'voices'. I'm considering the possible existence of an 'hysteric archetype' that may serve to guide people towards certain modes of thought and action that lead them from the path of psychosis--its still early days though! Anyway, bed beckons. It's been a long day.

Thanks muchly all.

If this all sounds a bit silly, then I offer the excuse that I'm a dabbling literature student so its my job to babble nonsense!
I getcha - thought it was a scientific term I'd never heard before:goof:

Couple more off the top of my head - Halifax slasher, Taipei slasher, toxic death of Gloria Menendez (if it was hysteria), phantom snipers...