The bizarre series of events began when a student at Shibram RD Academy School in Faridpur suddenly fell ill with breathing difficulties – shortly followed by 37 of her classmates.
Academy’s teacher Susanta Kumar said all the students were evacuated from the classrooms and gathered in the playground.
Meanwhile, 30 other students, mostly girls, also fell sick. They were all rushed to Faridpur Medical College Hospital (FMCH).
Fifty-seven schools of Faridpur Sadar Upazila have been closed for two days now. Hundreds of students have succumbed to ‘mass hysteria’
Faridpur’s Executive Magistrate (NDC) Mandip Gharai said 103 students of Shibram RD Academy and Khalilpur High School experienced sickness during school time.
FMCH Supervisor Ganapati Biswas said that Faridpur could be experiencing an outbreak of Mass Psychological Disease (MPD). Hundreds of students, mostly girls between Class 6 and 10, have been affected.
The disease starts with a student feeling out of breath, with the rest developing symptoms driven by anxiety that rippled through the school, he said.
a psychological phenomenon where one person exhibiting certain symptoms can trigger those same symptoms in others.
It isn’t the first time this has happened either – schools in many parts of the world have seen cases of mass hysteria involving dozens of pupils collapsing or falling sick within a short space of time.
Fortunately however such cases are rare and also tend to resolve themselves fairly quickly.
Mass hysteria is often misunderstood as being an illness that sufferers are making up. In fact the symptoms are verifiable and not imaginary. The issue is instead what is causing the symptoms—whether some external environmental contaminant or instead a form of suggestion-driven social contagion.