You know that feeling when you’re in a club, you’re about 8 drinks deep, and your song comes on? And you lock dreary eyes with all your mates and you start suddenly convulsing together, in a most untidy fashion? Or perhaps, the night before a proposed spot test, your friend drops you a message saying he’s feeling a ‘monster migraine’ coming on, and as if like magic, you wake up and you swear you’re feeling his phantom pain? Welcome to the world of Mass Psychogenic Illness, my friends.
In medical terms, it’s defined as “the rapid spread of symptoms affecting members of a cohesive group, originating from a nervous system disturbance”. Sounds cool, but you’re probably sat there like “Jordan, there is no way people are that stupid to all feel the same delusion at the same time”. So let me take you back to the middle ages to explain that one. Now, back in the day when you couldn’t get 3 trebles for a fiver, people had to find other ways to turn up, like maybe, getting possessed by the spirit of the Holy Ghost. The earliest cases of MPI report large groups of people who would just dance for weeks at a time. They would strip off, howl and make obscene gestures, and some laughed and cried their way to an early grave. Now, if you’ve ever been to a sports social at Tiger Wednesdays you should all have the knowledge you need to write an honest essay about how history repeats itself.
If you aren’t convinced yet, let me hit a little closer to home, with something from our precious childhood. Back in 1997, there was an episode of Pokémon that aired in Japan called Electric Soldier Porygon, where Pikachu used thunderbolt and the screen went nutswith flashing colours. Harmless right? Pikachu always does that. No, actually because 12,000 kids reported nausea and seizures. Yet only a fraction of them actually needed medical help, and the rest was mass hysteria. So next time, think of Pikachu when you fill in that absence form.