Mass hysteria among students of a government school in Uttarakhand’s Bageshwar is causing concern among the parents as well as the authorities. Several students, mostly girls, started screaming and rolling on the ground in a fit of hysteria, causing panic among the teachers.
Students were seen crying, shouting, screaming, and banging their heads at a government school in Raikhili village in the Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand. The bizarre incident of ‘mass hysteria’ left parents and school authorities concerned. A team of administration and doctors visited a government school in the Bageshwar district of Uttarakhand.
Vimla Devi, head teacher of the junior high school, told a News agency that the ‘abnormal’ behavior among a few girl students and a male student was first reported on Tuesday.
“They were crying, shouting, shivering, and even trying to bang heads for no reason. We called parents, they summoned a local priest and this is how the situation came under control,” the head teacher said.
The unusual behavior was noticed among the students on Thursday again when a team of administration and doctors visited the school. “Parents insisted that we perform pooja inside the school campus. They believe school is doomed. We would do anything, be it consulting doctors or taking help of faith healers so that everything becomes normal,” Vimla Devi said.
It is not clear what made the students behave strangely ever, physiatrists feel that it seems to be a case of ‘mass hysteria’.
“Around 15 girls from the school have been acting strangely since the past two days. They are trembling and untying their hair and screaming wildly. This mass hysteria has triggered panic in the area,” said a resident
There were bizarre scenes in the school since Wednesday morning, another resident said, adding that videos of “young girls acting as if possessed have spooked all of us.”
A student named Komal Rawat believed that the damp and dark classrooms add to the horror. It is yet not clear ‘on record’ what made students disturbed. However, physiatrists feel it seems to be a case of ‘mass hysteria. Dr. Jaya Nawani, a physiatrist with Doon Medical College underlined such cases of ‘mass hysteria’ are apparently directed by social developments shaping around students.
“For instance, faith healing is a common practice in parts of hills and this could leave an impact on the brains of children who often experience such practices in day-to-day life” explained Dr. Nawani.
Chandan Rawat, a member of the district panchayat in Bageshwar agreed such cases could be termed ‘mass hysteria. He claimed in past similar incidents were reported in a few other schools in the district.
Mukul Sati, a senior official with the education department in Dehradun said the Bageshwar incident is not an isolated case as the department had received similar reports from other schools from Chakrata (Dehradun) and Uttarkashi.
“We have decided to form a medical team which will visit government schools across the state in an attempt to allay fears among students,” Sati told the news agency.
What exactly is mass hysteria?
Mass hysteria refers to an outbreak of unusual and uncharacteristic behaviors, thoughts, and feelings or health symptoms shared among a group of people. Experts largely consider mass hysteria a type of conversion disorder or mental health condition that involves physical symptoms prompted by emotional or mental tension. The phenomenon is also referred to as “collective obsessional behavior,” by the researchers. In terms of sociology, it falls into the category of collective behavior or the mostly spontaneous actions of a large group of people who influence each other.
People affected by mass hysteria:
– typically believe something specific has triggered their symptoms
– don’t have an underlying health condition that could prompt those symptoms
– wouldn’t behave in that way on a regular basis
– may regularly of an exaggerated or nonexistent threat
Mass hysteria usually spreads verbally and visually. So, people who see or hear about someone with symptoms often begin experiencing symptoms themselves. Some experts use the term more loosely to describe any episodes of collective fear around a threat that doesn’t actually exist.
The potential triggers include:
- a strict school environment, especially a school away from home
- a community grief or disaster
- tense school relationships, particularly during puberty
- an isolated community, particularly one that follows a strict religious faith and punishes any deviation
- a pandemic or other threat that poses a risk of major health consequences
Both present-day evidence and theories about historical occurrences of mass hysteria suggest stress and anxiety play a part. Some evidence from Trusted Source suggests mass motor hysteria tends to result from ongoing stress, while mass anxiety hysteria more commonly develops in response to sudden, extreme stress. Not all experts make this distinction, though they do largely accept that both ongoing and sudden emotional distress play a role.
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