Is it mass hysteria, or another case of juju in Ghana? Is there a difference? According to Daily Guide Africa, 20 high school students lost consciousness and collapsed under mysterious circumstances during class on Tuesday, July 3. The affected students had complained about seeing ghosts, including the spirits of classmates who had died, before collapsing, according to classmates.
The incident occurred at Nungua Senior High School in Accra on Tuesday morning. The group of students all seemingly collapsed and lost consciousness at the same time. Whether it was instantaneous or just roughly at the same time was not stated. There seemed to be no material cause for the students’ collapse and they were rushed to the nearby LEKMA Hospital, where they are being treated.
According to the Guide, doctors at LEKMA Hospital have attributed the bizarre event to mass hysteria, yet at least the claims of a paranormal aspect have been corroborated. Dr Joseph Oliver Commey, who is treating the students at LEKMA says:
“They rushed to the emergency room with some behaving abnormally. But we found out that most of them were suffering from hysteria. They said they had seen things, some seeing ghosts, some seeing other students who are dead.
We can’t work with that as clinicians so we have managed them. They are currently very stable and they are waiting to see the clinical psychologist. We’ve seen close to 18 students, and we are observing three others. By the end of the day, we’ll hand them over to the school authorities who are still here”
It’s a tough nut to crack. If they had indeed seen visions of spirits, including some they know, and then lost consciousness and collapsed, seeming a little hysterical after the fact is probably pretty normal. Of course, in a place where there is a real fear and belief in juju and the paranormal, seeing one or two of your friends collapse from mundane causes—like heat exhaustion or any of the other myriad reasons that people pass out—could very well trigger a cascade of panic attacks resulting in more collapsing and more panic.
Mass hysteria is one of those catch-all terms to describe bizarre things that no one understands. It’s not a disease in the regular sense. Having been blamed for both events like this as well as events like the Salem witch trials—although that is very much debated, it has still been considered a possible cause—which was an entirely different type of event, it seems like “mass hysteria” is just an easy thing to say when a group of people claim to have experienced something out of the norm.
Strangely, this isn’t the first time this has happened. A very similar event took place in Tanzania in 2008, when 20 girls all rapidly fell unconscious during school. Other mass collapses have been reported all over the world as well. Maybe mass hysteria, is the right term, sometimes groups of people do just completely lose their minds all at once. Does that make it any less strange? Would that be an argument against the paranormal or in favor of it? It’s hard to tell.