The Ministry of Health in Nicaragua is working to help officials in a small village in Nicaragua deal with over 30 residents who claim they have been “possessed by the devil” which many believe came to one of them in a voodoo doll. This is not the first time a mass “possession” has occurred in this area – it happens so often that it’s been given the name “grisi siknis” which means “crazy sickness.” Is it a demonic possession, an illness, mass hysteria or something else?
According to a spokesperson for Rosario Murillo, the Vice President of Nicaragua (yes, the problem is that serious), this latest outbreak of “grisi siknis” was first reported on February 10 in the community of Raití in Alto Wangki. A small number of residents reportedly suffered convulsions and hallucinations and many ran until they fainted, waking up later remembering nothing. All reportedly are stabilized and recovering.
The crazy sickness, also referred to as “collective insanity,” then moved to Santo Tomás de Umbra, where Murillo’s spokesperson said the outbreak was far more serious.
The outbreak of collective insanity is the second detected in the last four weeks . In the community of Santo Tomás de Umbra there have been 27 cases of indigenous people with delusions and shouts .
The indigenous people are the Miskito Indians who believe that grisi siknis starts with an evil spirit. Those affected show signs of nausea, anxiety, dizziness, irrational anger, periods of ‘rapid frenzy’ (running around) and visions of spirits and demons. They believe the demon moves from person to person when the affected one says the name of another. A traditional healer in Santo Tomás named Marisella has reportedly been treating the “possessed” with unnamed medicines poured on the victims’ back and claims she found the original source of the grisi siknis – a voodoo doll with a black ribbon and a cross marked on its face.
The Health Ministry would prefer that those affected see medical professionals and blames this repeated mass hysteria (it also occurred in 2014, 2009 and 2003) on the native shamans themselves for spreading the stories of evil spirits. Unfortunately, the native Miskitos are susceptible to the “collective insanity” because they suffer from extreme collective poverty.
The residents of Santo Tomás de Umbra who haven’t yet shown symptoms of the grisi siknis have burned the voodoo doll. Perhaps they should have sent it to the vice president in return for help dealing with their crazy sickness called poverty.