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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 81.154.251.231
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 08:58 am:   

This was featured on Radio 4 'Today' this morning. An inexplicable, incurable 'nodding disease' in Uganda and elsewhere:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2120903/Mystery-nodding-disease-turning- children-zombies-Uganda.html
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 92.8.26.230
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 09:00 am:   

No doubt the exorcists will have a field day, God forbid.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 11:24 am:   

'Fortean Times' regularly includes round-ups of such superstitious panics. Last time it was men in the Congo having their penises snatched away by malign forces. These outbreaks still lead to instances of lynching "witches" in the more mediaeval parts of Africa and missionary work - including the use of exorcism - can be seen as a relatively civilising influence! That's how far behind us those parts of the world still are.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 12:28 pm:   

Jesus! That's awful! I do wonder if some of these "mystery" illness are linked to things like fibromyalgia (of which I have first hand experience). There's certainly the neurological connection there.

Re exorcisms, don't forget there was that terrible case recently where a boy's own sister and her partner had killed the lad in an "exorcism" somewhere down London way, I think. Horrible stuff.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 217.37.199.45
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 01:18 pm:   

Horror films about 'exorcism' are still frequently marketed with the assertion "Based on real events" a claim that demands an immediate boycott of any such film. Using the horror genre to promote the torture of people with neurological diseases deserves more than a boycott, it deserves a punch.
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Christopher Overend (Chris_overend)
Username: Chris_overend

Registered: 03-2012
Posted From: 217.33.165.66
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 01:56 pm:   

That said, William Peter Blatty's novel was brilliant. The film wasn't far behind.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 02:44 pm:   

We can, of course, go back to earlier films and see how these kinds of unexplained illnesses influenced them. "I Walked With A Zombie" springs to mind for a start.
(a phrase which my husband often jokingly uses when we go out for a walk together! )
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 81.154.251.231
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 02:50 pm:   

Just in:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17594074
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17589445
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 04:09 pm:   

I suspect this nodding disease may be a widespread manifestation of collective hysterical depression given the pitiful circumstances of these children's lives.

The fact that only children are affected with the symptoms being entirely behavioral, while scientists and the WHO have been unable to identify any pathogen responsible (despite years of research), points to a psychological/psychosomatic origin spread by word of mouth. Contagious hopelessness rather than contagious disease.

No doubt there have been parallel incidences of local eccentrics being accused of witchcraft and suffering summary justice at the hands of the populace, as tends to happen in such cases.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 04:51 pm:   

Ah, the old "mass hysteria" theory! Sorry, Stevie, but you've hit a raw nerve with me on that one. True, stress can be a contributing factor in these kinds of illnesses, but there are, I'm sure, physical factors too. Simply because we haven't managed to identify them yet doesn't mean they don't exist.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Tuesday, April 03, 2012 - 06:19 pm:   

Here's an interesting article which aims to debunk the mass hysteria theory about the outbreak of what's now considered to be an ME-like illness at the Royal Free Hospital in the 1950s:

http://freespace.virgin.net/david.axford/articl02.htm
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 82.18.174.156
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 01:38 am:   

Mass hysteria is not a derogatory term, Caroline. It is a very real and debilitating psychological illness that manifests in physical symptoms. Mind over body.

Of course there are neurological diseases that have devastating effects on individuals unfortunate enough to contract them but these are not plague-like contagions.

What we are witnessing in Uganda at the minute is a plague covering a massive area that strikes only children and has entirely behavioral symptoms. I believe the source is most probably cultural reinforced by a perverse kind of peer pressure.

It would be interesting if we were to hear of even one child from a well-off privileged background in the same part of the world (they may be rare but I have no doubt that they do exist) who has contracted this same illness.
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Mbfg (Mbfg)
Username: Mbfg

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 62.255.207.128
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 08:13 am:   

I have similar views on so-called ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder). I teach at a college and have been the leader for the electrical courses attended by lads (and it is all lads) who performed badly at school and have been given a chance to catch up so they can go on to the industry-standard electrical courses.

These lads can be very badly behaved. When I talk their parents and confront the students themselves, what do I hear? "Oh, it's because he has ADHD" or "It's because I've got ADHD."

I asked someone once to find out the demographic for ADHD sufferers. Guess what she discovered, it's a plague of what used to be called the working class (not verified official research by the way or 100% accurate, just a casual glance).

Now, although no one in Britian suffers the deprivations experienced by those kids in Africa, these students do often have difficult lives plus it's tough being a teenager in the West at the moment, for different reasons, not least media pressure to conform to certain impossible stereotypes, commercial pressure to express your personality character and entire belief system through the plastic tat you buy then discard and replace a few months later, almost universal drug use, and a lack of employment opportunities.

The UK ADHD plague is not an illness in my opinion (kids with this "attention deficit" can somehow focus for hours on end on their computers and iPhones), but there is a behavioural problem much of it based on an inability to concentrate on anything meaningful and find much in the way of self-respect, something my own generation managed to find through having a job and some structure in our lives - and I mean that in the sense that we were lucky, not better.
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Joel (Joel)
Username: Joel

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 2.24.29.178
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 09:13 am:   

Or to put it another way, Terry, a lot of kids have behavioural and emotional problems but these do not automatically lead to poor academic performance and inability to learn skills that outcome has a lot to do with expectations and cultural interpretation. As a child and teenager I was hyperactive and disruptive, but the perspective of my parents and teachers reinforced my sense of my own abilities and I was regarded as a 'problem child' with talent, not as a wreck, and encouraged to focus my energy on studying. Without that support and guidance I would have ended up in major trouble. And medication to suppress my hyperactive tendencies (which had clear roots in my home life) would have ensured I didn't go to university or get involved in writing.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 03:44 pm:   

I was an almost manically happy child who turned into a surly withdrawn and painfully shy teenager, by comparison. Since then I've swung back and forth between the two states. Insanely hedonistic twenties followed by the long dour hangover of my thirties and the second ridiculously gleeful childhood of my forties. I look forward to my fifties with some trepidation whilst knowing that, if I am to survive beyond them, some serious self-control will be in order once again...

Isn't life wonderful!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 92.232.199.129
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 03:50 pm:   

Here's an interesting recent BBC report on ADHD:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17495032

This suggests that children's lack of interaction with the outdoors might be to blame. I can believe that. As a kid, I was constantly outdoors without adult supervision. I'd walk and cycle for miles, sit for hours by the banks of a river watching for kingfishers and water voles, and of course play football and on the swings in the park with friends. Nowadays, parents are way too concerned (probably with good cause) about the horrible things which might happen to their kids to let them have the freedom to do that kind of thing.

And, of course, when I was a kid there wasn't the temptation of things like computer games. If it was cold/wet and I couldn't go outside, I'd have to just sit in my room and read or play music, or go visit a friend and do the same at their place.

It scares me to think that kids nowadays just aren't able to develop on their own, learn things the hard way, and find their independence the way I did back then.

Stevie - we'll have to agree to disagree on the mass hysteria thing. I don't deny the psychological aspects of these illnesses and the fact that things like this can be triggered by stress/trauma. Heck, I studied a little psychology so I know quite a bit about it! But I also know my own body quite well, and I can tell you from first-hand experience that chronic fatigue and chronic pain conditions definitely have their roots in something physical, whether that's a malfunction in the brain or whatever - even if that hasn't been identified precisely yet.

Interestingly, a lot of folk I talk to on a fibromyalgia forum *do* get annoyed and deny any psychological aspect to these illnesses - probably because they spend so much time trying to convince doctors, family, friends, employers and the DWP (when they claim benefits) that they really *are* ill and it isn't "all in their heads".

I don't buy the argument that these things only happen to poor (or "working class") people. Take the African case we're talking about above - if the child of someone in a more priveledged (spelling? my brain's on a go-slow) position (eg. in the government) developed these symptoms, would they not get immediate hospital treatment? Poor kids out in remote rural areas don't have that luxury, therefore it isn't surprising that the worst cases are seen there.

This is similar to the Royal Free Hospital case I linked to above. The "mass hysteria" theory came about on one level because all the sufferers were seen to be young females. They were, indeed, young females, but that was because it was young females who worked in these nursing roles at the time. There's an issue with the direction of causality being wrongly assumed there, I feel!

So, my plea is, remember possible unexplained physical causes for illnesses before assuming them to be psychological only.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 81.154.251.231
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 03:50 pm:   

Nods.
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 81.154.251.231
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 03:51 pm:   

My "Nods" was to Stevie's "Isn't life wonderful!"
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Des (Des)
Username: Des

Registered: 09-2010
Posted From: 81.154.251.231
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 03:53 pm:   

So, my plea is, remember possible unexplained physical causes for illnesses before assuming them to be psychological only.
-----------------

I've gone through 64 years trying to keep an open mind about everything.
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Christopher Overend (Chris_overend)
Username: Chris_overend

Registered: 03-2012
Posted From: 217.33.165.66
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 05:51 pm:   

http://www.theonion.com/video/braindead-teen-only-capable-of-rolling-eyes-and-te ,27225/

This is the well-off, privileged background manifestation of a similar disease, it would seem.
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Christopher Overend (Chris_overend)
Username: Chris_overend

Registered: 03-2012
Posted From: 217.33.165.66
Posted on Wednesday, April 04, 2012 - 05:54 pm:   

@Joel,

I had a similar problem at school; I got in trouble with the police, and my later teens and early twenties were a disaster, in terms of wasted time. They were a lot of fun though.

I ended up joining the Navy, which seemed to help, but it's only since I left I took up writing. Well done on your anthology inclusion, by the way.

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