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Mass hysteria, not demon attack, say mental health experts

Mental health experts have dismissed claims of supernatural activity at the Moruga Secondary School where pupils reported being "attacked" by an unseen force yesterday and on Wednesday.

Psychiatrist Dr Hari Maharajh said the "demon attack" appeared to be a case of mass hysteria.

A similar opinion was given by consultant psychiatrist at the St Ann's Mental Hospital Dr Iqbal Ghany.

Maharajh said the anxiety symptoms experienced by pupils during the past two days were not spiritual.

More than 25 pupils complained of having tremors, shaking, difficulty breathing and feelings of suffocation.

Maharajh said, "This is not a spiritual problem. It is mass hysteria or copycat behaviour. That is when one person displays a number of symptoms, and it is copied by others based on certain beliefs," he said.

Maharajh said the affected person may also suffer pseudo or false seizures.

He advised the School Supervision Unit to intervene and provide counselling for the pupils.

Ghany said mass hysteria affected mainly females.

"This is not a demon attack. It is what we call acute or mass hysteria, which affects mainly women," he said.

Last year, several woman in Granville, Cedros, claimed they saw a possessed goat walking through the village. The alleged paranormal activity began in Granville after a 27-year-old woman, with a blood-related illness, died mere days after being diagnosed. Her death was followed by the death of another female villager, who took her own life shortly after attending the woman's funeral.

The police report stated Dohmatie Seebran told friends she had been hearing a voice which told her to kill herself.

After Seebran's funeral, at least three other women in the village were said to have encounters with the demon, and one of them said she, too, was prompted, but disregarded a voice telling her to kill herself and her child.

Pundit Praboodeo Maharaj led the interfaith procession through the streets of Granville.

Medical experts, however, said the women had suffered a case of mass hysteria.

There have also been multiple reports of children at primary schools suffering phantom illnesses, shortly after witnessing a schoolmate's complaint.

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