Psychogenic illness, also known as epidemic hysteria, can occur anywhere at any time. It can evolve from no apparent cause and can spread quickly through all sectors of the population. The symptoms associated with epidemic hysteria have no apparent cause and can last indefinitely. They are connected to a person’s thought processes instead of the physiological functions of the human body. In some cases a “trigger” may cause a person or group of people to believe they have been exposed to something contagious or toxic.
In 1999, ten school children reported flu-like symptoms within a few hours of each other. It was determined that the only connection between the ten children was they all had consumed Coca Cola earlier in the day. Investigators speculated the Coke products were tainted in some way and released their report to the public. It wasn’t long until other members of the town, as well as more students, were reporting similar issues. However, all test results performed on the individuals who claimed to be sick came back negative. All of the individuals in question were given a completely clean bill of health.
Psychogenic illness or epidemic hysteria means just what it suggests. An epidemic of hysteria that spreads among a group of people with no apparent cause except for a combined element of fear. When one or more people within a group experience a “trigger”, they automatically begin to assume the worst possible scenario. As the first person begins to experience symptoms, they “pass on the fear” to another person, who also begins to show symptoms. The chain reaction starts and epidemic continues to spread, just like a true illness that accompanies the spreading of germs, bacteria and viruses.
The cause of a psychogenic illness can be a rumor or misspoken statement that a person fails to clarify. Individuals who normally propagate mass psychogenic illnesses are often those who are constantly ill and often try to match their symptoms to possible disorders in an attempt to get medical validation of an illness.
Vaccinations are also possible causes of psychogenic illnesses. Because some vaccines can elicit symptoms of the disorders they are designed to prevent. During flu season, professionals who dispense the flu vaccine often report a higher instance of reported flu cases shortly after the shot has been given. Some cases may be valid, but the majority show symptoms with no apparent cause and tests that are often returned as negative.
Psychogenic illnesses occur anytime fear is allowed to infiltrate the population. Fear of a virus or bacteria can wreak havoc on the health of a community. Knowing how to adequately evaluate symptoms will help to determine if the illness is valid or has been caused by a subconscious reaction to a trigger