Shocking video footage has emerged online showing a case of "mass demonic possession" at a school in Peru. The footage shows several children, supposedly "possessed by the devil," convulsing, frothing at the mouth, screaming repeatedly, and fainting. Many reported experiencing terrifying hallucinations or visions.
According to Peruvian media reports, nearly 100 schoolchildren at the Elsa Perea Flores School in Tarapoto, northern Peru, were affected by the epidemic of "demonic possession."
The children, aged mostly between 11 and 14, experienced seizures, muscular convulsions, and fainting. Many claimed they saw visions of a "man in black" chasing them and trying to kill them by strangling.
Frightened parents came to the school and rushed their children to the hospital.Experts described the incident as a case of "contagious mass hysteria" but were unable to explain what triggered it. Rumors emerged that the school was built over a Mafia graveyard.
Locals claimed that when the school was being built, workers found mass graves containing bones of people who had been tortured by a local Mafia before they were murdered.
"It is known that years ago there were many victims of terrorism here," paranormal investigator Franklin Steiner said. "When this school was built, some say bones and dead bodies were found."
Other locals speculated that the school children may have played games used to contact demons, such as Ouija board.
The first cases emerged in April, and by early this week, about 80 students at the school had experienced the condition, said baffled health authorities who struggled to contain the epidemic.
"We don't understand how this has kept on going on," said Doctor Antony Choy, according to Peruvian Panamericana TV. "We know it started on 29th April and now it is still happening. Now there are almost 80 pupils [still affected].
School teachers said the attacks occurred in several classes. While some students convulsed, fainted, and experienced frightening hallucinations, others suddenly became sick and threw up.
A parent, Elsa de Pizango, whose daughter was one of the victims, told the TV station that her daughter fainted at school.
"They didn't say anything at the hospital. She just fainted. She keeps on spitting froth from her mouth," she said.
A schoolgirl, one of the victims, described her experience.
"It's disturbing for me to think about it," she said. "It's as if someone kept on chasing me from behind. It was a tall man all dressed in black and with a big beard and it felt like he was trying to strangle me. My friends say I was screaming desperately, but I don't remember much."
Another said she felt pressure on her neck as if she was being strangled, and according to classmates, she was screaming.
Her classmates said she screamed repeatedly, "Take it out."
"Several children from different classrooms fainted at the same time," a 13-year-old student said. "I got nauseous and started vomiting. I heard voices. A man in black chased me and wanted to touch me."
Although locals said the strange incident was caused by a "demonic attack," social psychologists and mental health experts say incidents of contagious hysteria are linked to fear and anxiety spreading within a group, such as students anxious about upcoming examinations.
Collective anxiety and fear may manifest among susceptible individuals as patterns of contagious collective symptoms or behavior, such as mass psychogenic illness where many members of a group present with similar or identical symptoms of disease in the absence of organic illness.
In other instances, the symptoms are wholly psychological in nature and may involve collective obsessional behavior or delusional beliefs, such as irrational conspiracy theories.
This is not the first time that contagious hysterical behavior has been reported among schoolchildren.A case of mass hysteria was reported last month at a school in Malaysia. Authorities were forced to shut down the school after several students and teachers claimed they saw a spirit or "black figure" lurking in halls and corridors. The reports caused fear, and symptoms of "demon possession" spread in the school.
In October 1965, an epidemic of dizziness and fainting swept through a school in Blackburn, England, affecting about 85 girls, mostly 14-years-old and younger. Initial fears that the symptoms were caused by contamination of food, water, or air pollution at the school were dispelled after an exhaustive investigation.
Earlier, in January 1962, an epidemic of laughter -- the so-called Tanganyika laughter epidemic -- spread among girls at a boarding school in Kashasha. Affected girls laughed hysterically for hours and days. The epidemic spread in the school for more than two weeks, affecting nearly 100 students aged 12 to 18. The persistence forced the authorities to close down the school.But after the school was closed down, the epidemic spread to neighboring areas and persisted for months before it died out gradually.
Some of the best-known cases of mass hysteria in history occurred in institutions similar to schools, such as nunneries. The Cat Nuns incident occurred in France during the Middle Ages. Nuns began meowing like cats, and the odd behavior spread like a contagion to surrounding villages until troops were called din.
Another notable incident in the 15th century involved nuns biting each other. The obsessional contagion spread from Germany to many countries in Western Europe.
The "Dancing Plague," which occurred in the early 16th century, involved groups of people in Strasbourg dancing for hours and days until some died of exhaustion.
The best known example in the United States is the infamous Salem witch trials that occurred in the late 17th century. Women began experiencing fits and seizures that led to accusations of witchcraft. The accusations led to trials and the execution of 25 people accused of witchcraft.
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