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Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic

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Annika Bilog

on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic

Mass Hysteria of
Tanganyika Laughter

Tanganyika (aka Tanzania)
Girl's Boarding School
An epidemic of contagious laughter
No reason why
6 - 16 months
What Really Happened?
January 30th, 1962
A group of girls started laughing in class for unknown reasons
Affected about 100 students, ranging from 12 - 18 year olds
The humorless laughter spread around the school
Forced shut down - March 18th - May 21st.
After the Kashasha school closed down, the epidemic spread to villages where the students lived.
The Kashasha Girls' Boarding School closed down again in June
By this time, the epidemic has spread in many other villages.
Mostly affected schools
Parents of the students were also affected
The laughing had nothing to do with humor; it was one of many symptoms
Other Symptoms
– Anxiety from pain
– Fainting
– Respiratory problems
– Crying attacks
– Rashes
Possible Causes
No specific cause, but there are theories:
Caterpillar Plague
Girls might have stepped on them
Stress caused by new independence from Britain
Feeling of inferiority - lack of power due to 40 years of British rule
independence obtained a few weeks before epidemic
Protestant/Catholic missionaries
Feeling of inferiority
Due to teachers and parents' high expectations from students (#troylife)
Laughing Facts
• Impossible to laugh more than about 20
• A strain on respiration
• Off and on laughing throughout the day.
• Impossible for everyone affected to laugh for 6 to 16 months continuously.
Annika Bilog, Irene Joo, Jacquelyn Lee, Paige Rooney
Works Cited
“An Epidemic of Laughter.” Stanford University: The Program in Human Biology. Web. 25 Sept. 2013 <https://humbio.stanford.edu/node/9124>.
Bartholomew, Robert E. and Simon, Wessely. "Protean Nature of Mass Sociogenic Illness..." The British Journal of Psychiatry. Ed. Kamaldeep Bhui. The
Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2002. 300-306. Web.
Mann, Modi. "Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic." SelfGrowth.com. Web. 23 Sept. 2013 <www.selfgrowth.com/tanganyika-laughter-epidemic>.
Ramkin, A.M and Philip, P.J. "An Epidemic of Laughing in the Bukoba District of Tanganyika." Central American Medical Journal, 1963. Web. 26 Sept.
2013 <http://spectregroup.wordpress.com/2009/01/03/tanganyika-laughter-epidemic-1962-64/>.
Sebastian, Simone. “Examining 1962’s ‘Laughter Epidemic’.” Ed. Laura M. Claxton. Chicago: Chicago Tribune, 2003. Web.
Takeda, Allision, Ed. "The Mystery of Mass Hysteria." Everyday Health. Everyday Health Media, LLC, 2013. Web.
“Tanganyika laughter epidemic”. Albert Einstein University. Web. 26 Sept. 2013 <www.medbib.com/Tanganyika-laughter_epidemic>.
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