When we go through difficult times, our friends and family always do their best to make us smile. We always thought that when we have the courage to smile, we will have enough courage to take on whatever challenges we are about to face. Laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
But what will you do when this popular and priceless medicine become the reason for an epidemia? Will you still be able to move you mouth or laugh your hearts out when it becomes a problem that could paralyzed an entire community?
In 1962, Tanganyika has experienced the largest laughter epidemic which all began when two school girls in the village of Kashasha has been giggling nonstop. It quickly spread throughout the school and affected 95 out of 159 students. The odd phenomenon spread to 14 more schools, affecting almost 1,000 pupils. Though the teachers were not affected, the outbreak made it impossible to teach, thus schools were forced to close.
Christian Hempelmann of Texas A&M University, who conducted a research about the strange event said that it all spread out like an avalanche. One person laughs, then the other person laughs. So when parents picked up their kids from school, they started laughing spreading it to the village and so on. The epidemic has spread and lasted for 6 month to a year and a half.
He also added, that The laughter epidemic is a case of mass psychogenic or sociogenic illness. The students must have been in a variety of high-stress settings. Even the unfamiliar expectations and situations imposed by the British-run schools were considered to be one of the reasons and might have contributed to the stress of the students, especially that there are still uncertainties in Tanganyika’s independence which was achieved just a month before the incident.
“On the one hand it sounded too good to be true, and on the other hand, people were citing it in support of all kinds of things, across the spectrum, and contradictory things,” says Hempelmann. “So I thought—I’ve got to look at this again and see, did this actually happen and what does it tell us about humor.”
SOURCE : Elite Readers