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15 Strange Cases of Mass Hysteria That’ll Leave You Baffled

6. The Laughter Epidemic, Tanganyika  

In 1962, three girls at a girls boarding school started laughing in a class. Soon, dozens of students started laughing uncontrollably, some of them for days. The laughing fits that affected thousands of people, spreading across neighboring villages, lasted for more than fifteen days forcing fourteen schools to close down.

laughing epidemic
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On January 30, 1962, three girls at a mission-run boarding school for girls in Kashasha, started laughing uncontrollably. The teachers were helpless as they tried to stop their laughter. Interestingly, laughter spread to 95 other students among 159 students aged 12-18. The laughing fits lasted from a few hours to more than 15 days. The Kashasha school was forced to close down on March 18, 1962. The school was reopened on May 21, only to be closed again at the end of June. This bizarre epidemic spread across neighboring villages mostly affecting school children and young adults. In total, 14 schools were shut down and 1000 people were affected. The laughter episodes continued on and off for about one year, and then mysteriously ceased. (source )


7. The Christians Condemn Backmasking

In the late 1970s, religious leaders began to play LP records backward and discovered satanic messages. People would bring the records to churches and destroy it. Rock music was vilified. In a report by CBS news, thirty teenagers claimed that they were being influenced by Satan so that messages could be implanted in the music.

Back in the 70s, there was a point in time where religious leaders began to play LP records backward and “discovering” satanic messages. They call it backmasking. Records were destroyed and rock music was vilified. People would bring the records to their church and the records would be destroyed. When back masking culminated in the late 70s, it was claimed that hidden messages were found not only in popular music but also in songs released by Christian artists.

An article entitled “secular demonic rock and roll: Hidden messages in rock and roll” stated that “The Devil being acutely aware of this, is using Rock music to transmit messages which keep people in bondage to him. Some rock groups have become open mediums to the Devil. Others have intentionally placed messages in their music which reveal the ultimate meaning of their songs.” Fundamentalists and Christian groups demanded legislation to ban its usage. They claimed that its “sublime messages” would bypass the conscious mind, hugely affecting the subconscious mind in a negative association with satanism. They explained that:

“Even if these communications are garbled or spoken backwards (backmasking), with repetitive listening, they still pass on information that is remembered. In many ways back tracking is a form of hypnotism or brain washing and has the power to be very destructive.”

The backmasking hit the peak when a ceremony was reported by CBS news in 1982. It was claimed that Satan wanted to destroy the youth of America by engaging in a contentious action to destroy all the records in their possession while at the same time attracting media. Thirty teenagers in Huntersville NC, USA led by their pastor, a reformed rock musician, claimed that they were being influenced by Satan. The singers were reported as possessed by Satan who manipulated their voices so that messages could be implanted in the music. Among the most famous example is a passage from “Stairway to Heaven.” Some claim that when played backward they can make out the sentence: “I will sing because I live with Satan”.(1,2)


8. Daycare Sex Abuse, United States

During the late 80s and early 90s, it was reported that day care providers were molesting young children and were charged for forms of child abuse, including Satanic ritual abuse. It was reported that children had been used for prostitution and child pornography. The children claimed that they saw witches fly, traveled in a hot-air balloon, and were taken through underground tunnels. Dozens of teachers were jailed based solely on children’s testimony, who were coached by psychologists.

Daycare Sex Abuse
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The Kern County child abuse case was the first prominent instance of accusations of ritualized sex abuse of children. The Kern County case was followed by cases elsewhere in the United States as well as Canada, New Zealand, Brazil, and various European countries for almost a decade. In 1982, in Kern County, California, parents were accused of abusing their own children. The initial charges were made by the children’s step-grandmother, who had a history of mental illness. It was reported that the children had been used for prostitution and child pornography, tortured, and forced to watch snuff films. In 1984, they were sentenced to over 240 years in prison.

The next outbreak happened in August 1983. Mathew, a 3-year-old preschool student Matthew complained of an itchy anus. He was obsessed with playing doctor, a game he said he played at school. Judy Johnson, his mother reported police that she suspected her son was being molested by one of his preschool (McMartin) teachers. Soon after, other parents of children McMartin preschool alerted police that their children had confessed to being fondled, sodomized, and forced to participate in pornographic films. The children claimed that in addition to sexual abuse, they saw witches fly, traveled in a hot-air balloon, and were taken through underground tunnels. When shown a series of photographs by the McMartins’ lawyer, one child identified actor Chuck Norris as one of the abusers.

There were reports that McMartin teachers slaughtered animals and babies in front of the children before abusing them. Five McMartin teachers were ultimately arrested and charged, along with the school’s administrator, and its 76-year-old founder. The school shut down in January 1984. The detectives and child therapists reported that it was a ritualistic satanic abuse. The McMartin case was symptomatic of a nationwide panic about an “epidemic” of child sexual abuse at day-care centers in the ’80s, with other high-profile cases in Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Texas all fomenting media hype, legislative changes, and mass hysteria. Around 20 other notable incidents were reported in the decade.(1,2,3)

9. Genitalia Vanishing, Nigeria 

During 1990, people, both male and female found their “genitals vanish” when an accidental body contact was made with a stranger. The victims would then threaten or beat the accused strangers until they received their genitals back. Social and cultural traditions of Nigeria also contributed to the outbreak. A Christian priest even claimed that a Bible passage where Jesus asked “Who touched me?” because the “power had gone out of him,” referred to genital stealing (101-102).

Genitalia vanishing
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People in Nigeria believed that strangers would steal their genitals. Accusations were usually triggered when a person made an accidental body contact with a stranger. Following the contact, the victim would feel strange scrotum sensations and would then grab their genitals to confirm that they were still there. If the genital wasn’t there, the victim would then confront the stranger accusing them of being a genital thief. Victims would actually strip naked to convince bystanders that their penis was really missing. It is reported that many victims had got back their genitals after confronting with the stranger. The accused was often threatened or beaten until the penis had been fully restored. In some instances, the accused was beaten to death. Many, having received it back felt that it was shrunken or that it was a wrong one. Ilechukwu (1992, 96) described the scene in one city:

“Men could be seen in the streets of Lagos holding on to their genitalia either openly or discreetly with their hands in their pockets. Women were also seen holding on to their breasts directly or discreetly by crossing the hands across the chest. It was thought that inattention and a weak will facilitated the “taking” of the penis or breasts.”

Social and cultural traditions of Nigeria also contributed to the outbreak. According to Ilechukwu (1988, 313), the Nigerian ethnic groups ascribe high potency to the external genitalia as ritual and that they promote fecundity or material prosperity to the unscrupulous. A Christian priest even claimed that a Bible passage where Jesus asked “Who touched me?” because the “power had gone out of him,” referred to genital stealing (101-102).(source)


10. The Pokemon Shock, Japan

The Pokemon episode “Electric Soldier Porygon” (season 1, episode 38) that was aired in 1997 caused photosensitive seizures in 700 Japanese children. Twenty minutes into the show, a flashing attack of Pikachu horrified children, and 618 of them were rushed to hospitals. They suffered symptoms such as convulsions, altered levels of consciousness, blurred vision, and depression. Eventually, Pokemon was taken off air for four months.

Pokemon caused seizers in children
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On December 16, 1997, Pokemon episode number 38, “Cyber Soldier Porygon” was aired, and it caused seizures in 700 Japanese children after they witnessed Pikachu uses his lightning powers to blow up some missiles. The episode was aired between 6:30 PM and 6:51 PM, and the flashing attack sequence appeared on the screen. By 7:30, 618 children were rushed to hospitals. They suffered symptoms such as convulsions, altered levels of consciousness, headaches, breathlessness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, and depression.

The reason why so many people were affected was because about 1 in 4000 people can suffer photosensitive seizures and with nearly four million people watching the show in Japan, more would likely be affected. Pokémon had been taken off the air for four months, and it suffered a barrage of abuse from the media. During the panic, Nintendo, the company behind the Pokemon juggernaut, saw its stock drop by five percent.(source)


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