News from Bangladesh – a demon is visiting a school insisting a tree be chopped down and to give it goat sacrifices. The kids are scared off.
Six students fall unconscious within a short time one day triggering rumours of a ghost taking up residence in a tree next to the school building.
The six say they have been visited by the demon, or “Ramayan” as is its name, who wants the 25-year-old hog plum tree to be chopped down and each to sacrifice a goat and distribute the meat among the locals to appease it.
Doctors at Kalapara Upazila Health Complex who first treated the six on August 15, the day of the fainting outbreak, term it a case of “mass hysteria”, that is manifestations of anxiety and hyperventilation.
One wonders how they got to the demon as an explanation.
None of the students came to school on September 17, but 500 villagers and the school authorities held a meeting. Apparently the decision is to bring in a “spiritual healer” to use magic to exorcise.
The parents say many children have been acting strange, having fits of crying and aggression or just staring while lying in bed. Hmm, sounds like typical 11-14 year old behavior to me. Instead of invoking an absolutely extraordinary entity as the cause, it’s obvious to others that this is a case of mass psychogenic illness (I prefer mass sociogenic illness especially for this case) – where the kids experience distress, responding to others, and act out that stress in ways that appear bizarre. The great attention paid to the situation not only helps to fuel it but also, may eventually result in it subsiding if the villagers and children truly believe the demon is gone.