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No. 11: Summer 1980

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Environmental Stress And Anomalies

A succession of outbreaks of so-called mass hysteria in West Malaysia has been investigated by Lee and Ackerman. The victims behaved in bizarre ways, had difficulties in breathing, entered trancelike states, and saw grotesque and mysterious beings. The local populace knew, of course, that the victims (all young students) had offended the spirits. The psychologists knew, of course, that these were typical instances of mass hysteria akin to windshield-pitting episodes, kissing-bug scares, etc. Bomohs (Malay healers) performed adequate sacrifices and passed out suitable talismans, and the episodes were soon under control. The bomohs and the psychologists both explained things successfully in their respective frames of reference. Lee and Ackerman attribute the mass hysteria to social conflicts in a society in transition.

(Lee, Raymond L.M., and Ackerman, S.E.; "The Sociocultural Dynamics of Mass Hysteria..," Psychiatry, 43:78, 1980.)

Comment. Could bomohs likewise suppress outbreaks of UFOs, bigfoot sightings, spoonbendings, and sundry anomalies?

From Science Frontiers #11, Summer 1980. 1980-2000 William R. Corliss