Mass hysteria has hit a school in Kota Bahru in Kelantan last Monday (11 Apr). 100 students (both male and female) as well as teachers were reportedly affected by it. The school was eventually closed temporarily on Thursday (14 Apr) and the principal appealed for professional help to deal with the situation.
The school, with an enrolment of 1,044 pupils and 84 teachers, was re-opened on 17 Apr (Sun) under the observation of several religious teachers and Islamic medical practitioners. Eight girls were however suddenly affected after two hours of reciting Quranic verses and special prayers conducted by all the students at its open hall.
Several sceptical students said they managed to capture images of a white spectre resembling a pocong (ghostly figure encased in a shroud) at the school canteen, the hall and classrooms on Saturday night.
A teacher, Norlailawati Ramli, who was affected on 13 Apr was quoted by Malaysian channel Astro Awani as saying:
“When I was holding one of the pupils, my arms felt extraordinarily heavy. I recited the istighfar. Things were truly out of control at the time. But after the pupil recovered and went home, I then felt as though someone was hanging on to the left side of my body. I saw flashes of black, like a black figure.”
Another teacher, Kamariah Ibrahim, she said she tried to recite verses from the Al-Qur’an when she realised that she was losing control of herself.
“I saw a black figure, like it was trying to enter my body, but my colleagues were surrounding me, reciting verses from the Al-Qur’an. I felt like my head was bloating, I felt numb and tears kept pouring down my face,” she was quoted as saying. “I silently recited the Ayatul Kursi, over and over again, then my head began to feel lighter after about an hour.”
A Form Five student of the school, SMK Pengkalan Chepa 2, said she was possessed after she saw a pontianak in the school toilet on 13 Apr.
“I could not believe what I saw, both my arms began to go numb and then my mind went blank and I was frozen on the spot,” said Raja Nor Atirah Hurmaishah.
“I tried to call out for help but could not open my mouth, after that everything went dark,” she said.
She described the feeling of not being able to move as weird and thanked god that “I did not jump off the school building”.
“The apparition was creepy and now I avoid the toilets, preferring to ease myself at home,” she said.
A local traditional medicine expert however said that the hot weather and repressed emotion together with reports of the mass hysteria that went viral could be the cause of this phenomenon.
Singapore too has been hit by such mass hysteria in the past. Woodsville Secondary School in Aljunied Road (which was merged with MacPherson Secondary School in 2004) was affected by the unexplainable phenomenon in April 1979.
48 students from the school went hysterical for three days. One student after another went into a frenzied trance-like state.
The newspaper reported that:
“While some cried, screamed, shivered and started eating the grass and empty glasses, others stared into empty space with open eyes while performing a Tai Chi type of dance movement called the Kuda Kepang, an ancient Malay wedding dance.
Some were restrained from their violent fits by the teachers. No one could communicate with them during their violent fits and trances.
Twenty-eight students gave 28 different descriptions of legless apparitions which appeared before them.”
Another newspaper reported that on 16 Jan 1991, 5 Secondary 3 students at Bedok Town Secondary went into hysteria.
And on 29 Sep 1999, a secondary 2 student’s fall from a flight of stairs in his school ended up causing 7 students to go into mass hysteria.
Singapore’e Ministry of Labour’s Industrial Health Division previously kept records of cases of mass hysteria. According to their records, the first case of mass hysteria happened in Singapore in 1973 and by the year 1980, it has investigated 12 such cases.
It is unknown if the Ministry of Manpower or the Ministry of Education have records of such outbreaks in recent years.
Mass hysteria in schools are not unique to Singapore and Malaysia. Cases of such unexplained mysteries have long been recorded in many other parts of the world as well.
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