Kristen Kittscher: I can't help but be puzzled by the mysterious illness that suddenly overcame 12 teenage girls at LeRoy High School near Buffalo, NY this past fall. Almost overnight the girls began having sudden, uncontrollable painful jerking, twitching, and speech problems that resembled Tourette's Syndrome. The symptoms were so devastatingly severe for one girl that she has yet to return to school. School authorities maintain there are no environmental causes of the girls' illness. Distraught by the lack of explanation for the girls' symptoms, the girls' parents have taken to the airwaves to publicize the strange case. Several doctors are convinced the girls' disease is a case of "mass psychogenic illness," which is a collective social delusion most often suffered by women, especially adolescent girls. Sufferers from mass psychogenic disorders have very real and tragic symptoms that nonetheless have no physical cause. Rather, stress or excitement unconsciously leads them to mimic one another's ailments. The dancing manias chronicled in the Middle Ages, such as St. John's Dance, as well as the many cases of nuns' "demonic possession" from the 1400 - 1800s are examples of other alleged instances of mass psychogenic illness. Of course, the mystery lover in me can't help but smell a cover-up somewhere here . . .
This discovery just reaffirms my belief that we don't know everything there is to know about our world -- and there are still Mysteries Among Us to discover -- we just have to look!