Social media seems to be driving some to distraction.
A mystery illness apparently afflicting students at a New York-area high school, which causes victims to lose verbal control and display Tourette’s Syndrome-like facial ticks, is being blamed by some experts on social media, of all things.
According to reports, there are currently over a dozen young victims of the mystery illness and one adult victim. “With the case now generating a great deal of media attention and public interest, some of the teens affected have been posting videos of their symptoms on YouTube, Facebook and other social networking channels,” reports The Huffington Post.
A professor of neurology from the University of Buffalo, Dr. David Lichter, has offered a hypothesis to account for this bizarre online ‘illness’. He says that teens may be unconsciously mimicking the symptoms they see on the videos posted by their peers.
The professor told WKBW News that this may all be a modern example of mass hysteria, “I think you do have the potential for people going online and witnessing other students’ behavior, then I think this medium has the potential to spread it beyond the immediate environment,” said Dr. Lichter.
Conversion disorder is a modern appellation for ‘mass hysteria’. The phenomenon is said to lead to the physical expression of psychological stress. And while it all may sound a little outlandish, the parents whose children attend LeRoy High School are worried and appear to be taking this situation seriously.
“Angry and confused LeRoy parents gathered at a public meeting this weekend to demand answers about whether the school is safe,” reports The Huffington Post. “After extensive testing, the school district reported finding no environmental cause for the symptoms.”
Even though testing results have all come up negative, a team of environmentalists, led by media personality Erin Brockovich, is testing soil samples in the area. Apparently, 40 years ago there was a train wreck near the school and chemicals were spilled.
Nevertheless, the New York department of health hasn’t found any environmental or infectious causes for the so-called mystery illness. A department spokesman says that LeRoy High School is served by a public water system and so any environmental exposure would have affected many people in the area.
14 females and 1 male are currently suffering from the illness. The adult who reported symptoms is 36-year-old Marge Fitzsimmons, who resides in the area. The woman, who has lived in LeRoy all her life, started experiencing symptoms in October–approximately the same time local teenagers began reporting tics and involuntary head-shaking.
“When it first started I thought maybe I’m going crazy,” Ms. Fitzsimmons told NBC News. “As an adult, I can’t imagine these teenagers going through this and for anyone to think that they’re faking it at all. Try living a day in their shoes.”
Ms. Fitzsimmons was forced to quit her job when the motor and facial tics became too much for her to cope with. She had previously been diagnosed with conversion disorder due to stress resulting from childhood trauma. Her doctor apparently suggested that her troubles stemmed from suppressed childhood feelings finally coming to the surface.
We’d post one of these videos for our readers to view, but considering how Kiwi Commons is all about promoting Internet safety, we’ve decided to wait until they have been proven completely harmless. Better safe than sorry!
While we frequently cover the potential dangers and pitfalls of using social media, this latest issue is something we could never have predicted. Stick with Kiwi Commons for updates on this bizarre new social media-related mystery illness!
Talk To Us! Is it possible that social media can trigger neurological problems in teens?
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