(Photo: Pixabay). For centuries-old bars, a pandemic is nothing new. A 19th-century cholera outbreak in Sligo may have been Bram Stoker's chief inspiration. “It’s not as crazy as one would think.”. There were reported cases of the laughter outbreak lasting up to sixteen days in some individuals. On January 30, 1962, at a mission-run boarding school at Kashasha village in Tanzania, three girls started showing symptoms that were the beginning of a critical outbreak: laughing a crying fits, restlessness, and paranoia. One such mysterious event occurred in and around the village of Kashasha near Victoria in Tanzania in 1962. The 1962 outbreak began in a girls’ school and then spread to other communities, with uncontrollable laughter affecting perhaps 1,000 people, lasting several months, and causing the temporary closure of 14 schools. Christian Hempelmann of Texas A&M University, who has done research on the incident, describes the laughter epidemic as a case of mass psychogenic or sociogenic illness, a malady that has the capacity to strike in a variety of high-stress settings. A laughter yoga session, where laughter is actually supposed to be contagious. 65 Views. The school was closed in March 18, 1962 shortly after the outbreak of laughter since the students couldn't concentrate on their studies. This is the story about the Tanganyika laughter epidemic that occurred in 1962. “You can hear the creaks, smell the grain—you really feel the age of it.”. No purchase necessary. The laughter epidemic is rumored to have begun on January 30, 1962, at a mission-run boarding school for girls in Kashasha, on the western coast of Lake Victoria in the modern nation of Tanzania near the border of Uganda. None of the five teachers at the school were affected (two European teachers and three African teachers). The Tanganyika laughter epidemic is when an outbreak of laughter occurred in Tanganyika (which is modern day Tanzania), in 1962. Most cases of mass psychogenic illness begin with a single individual—in this case, one schoolgirl likely fell into a fit of anxiety-induced laughter, setting in motion a chain effect, until the girls around her were also engulfed in desperate laughter. Though the Tanganyika case is closed, similar cases of mass psychogenic illness occur among groups of people unable to extract themselves from a stressful situation. Christian F. Hempelmann's research is a barrel of laughs. September 12, 2020, 8:16 am, Your email address will not be published. This laughing epidemic spread to other schools and lasted between 6 and 18 months. By the time the epidemic had subsided some two and a half years later later fourteen schools had been closed for extended periods of time. “If you are referring to somebody as suffering from this, you are in a way still calling them hysterical,” he says. Other sources say it went on for a year, or two, or even more. Exploring the proven link between humour and better health this book is a 'must read' for anyone who wants to generate more laughter in their life! Get the latest stories straight into your inbox! September 17, 2020, 11:19 am, by Things supposedly started innocently enough. The first three victims were teenage girls though the laughing quickly spread to the rest of the school with 95 of the nearly 200 … Private Trip: Immersive Art and Otherworldly Landscapes of Santa Fe, Private Trip: Croatia’s Abandoned Sites & Ancient Cities, Private Trip: A Culinary Exploration of Lisbon, New Year, Ancient Foods: Food, Foraging & Mythology With Lori McCarthy and Felicity Roberts, Januš Parulis Museum of Life and History of Hrodna, Brooklyn's Putrid, Beloved Gowanus Canal Has Been a Horror for Centuries, Saving the Songs of South Korea's Female Divers, Trapped in Museums for Centuries, Maori Ancestors Are Coming Home, For Sale: Papers From the Planning of the 1963 March on Washington, The Microphotographic Wonders of Vermont’s 'Snowflake Man', How a Blacksmith in Jordan Created His Own Sign Language, In Naples, Praying With Skulls Is an Ancient Tradition, Inside a Domed Pyramid With Astounding Acoustics and a History of Miracles. Tanzania laughter epidemic (1962) In late January of 1962, at an all-girls school in Kashasha, Tanzania, three girls began to laugh uncontrollably. November 26, 2020, 5:50 pm, by 5: Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic (1962) Girls sit in a classroom in Namibia, 1969. All rights reserved. Blood samples taken at the time and sent to Europe for testing confirmed that no anomalies were found in the blood samples collected. On January 30th, three girls at a boarding school in Kashasha, Tanzania began laughing. Today’s research into the Tanganyika Laugh Epidemic seems to indicate that stress was possibly a leading cause of the epidemic. This new, more strict approach to children and schooling caused many of the children to become stressed over what was expected of them. Scott Williams Provine says it was not a case of an entire village grinding to a halt because of continued laughter outbursts. The laughter spread like wildfire throughout the school, affecting nearly 60% of the students. Please click below to consent to the use of this technology while browsing our site. by Periodically, the students would break out into the Required fields are marked *. The more we laugh the better we feel and the more easily we are able to cope with the things we have on our plate. Discomfort? Discomfort? Follow us on social media to add even more wonder to your day. (Photo: Hempelmann says that while mass psychogenic illness is fairly common, it’s often not reported under that name. Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic ADDPMP209 Outbreak of mass hysteria – or mass psychogenic illness (MPI) – rumored to have occurred in 1962 near the village of Kashasha on the western coast of Lake Victoria in the modern nation of Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) near the border with Uganda. Today’s research into the Tanganyika Laugh Epidemic seems to indicate that stress was possibly a leading cause of the epidemic. “The Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962 was an outbreak of mass to have occurred in or near the village of Kanshasa on the western coast of Lake Victoria in the modern nation of Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) near the border of Kenya. The eventual outburst of laughter was perhaps a coping mechanism to reduce the stress levels that were building up, primarily in the children but also in women rather than the male elders of the villages. This looks like the good kind of laughter. Follow us on Twitter to get the latest on the world's hidden wonders. Such a person is more commonly young than old, female than male, and employee rather than a supervisor. Children passing saw the girls laughing and although unaware of what had provoked such a joyous outburst among the girls, also started laughing. Back in 1962 in Tanzania (then Tanganyika), a laughing epidemic broke out at a girls' school. Instead of medicine, laughter became an epidemic. Scott Williams Scott Williams Much less serious than the Dancing Plague was the Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962. As they begin to recognize recurring themes, doctors are trying to figure out the best ways to approach patients of the illness. In this article we will try to explore the facts of what actually took place in Tanganyika (now Tanzania). Tough to tell. Yet cases like the group of high school girls in New York who developed facial tics continue to perplex the media. (Photo: CC Tanzania). Excessive laughter can lead to cataplexy, unpleasant laughter spells, and extreme elation. The laughter epidemic started on January 30, 1962 at an all-girls boarding school near the village of Kashasha in modern day Tanzania, Africa. Could it be both? It began as an innocent chuckle between two girls in a boarding school in the village of Kashasha. or "A Jew, an Indian, and Herbert Hoover walk into a bar …" or "Take my wife, please … It seems that around the time the epidemic broke out a new government administration was put in place across Tanjanyika which had a very strict policies towards children, schooling and expected outcomes. See. It seems that laughter isn’t just a joyful noise; it can be a signal of distress, spurred by anger or sadness or intertwined with mania. Let’s take a … Listen to the audio pronunciation of Tanzania laughter epidemic on pronouncekiwi. The fact that the epidemic mainly appeared to affect children and not adults caused this theory to eventually be discounted. September 24, 2020, 5:28 pm, by (Photo: Are Yeltsin and Clinton laughing out of mirth? On January 30th, three girls at a boarding school in Kashasha, Tanzania began laughing. It wasn’t just a group laugh—rather, experiencing the same stress, people subconsciously copy a complex of symptoms, of which laughter is just one. Laughing excessively can lead to extreme elation, cataplexy, and unpleasant laughter spells. A epidemic of the happiest kind broke out in a small African village in 1962. If you are suffering the affects of stress consider setting up a daily laughter plan to increase your laughter levels . The […] Malice? The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic remains the only one of its kind on record. The Happy Human is the new book from Australia's Laughter Specialist Scott Williams. Scott Williams There is also abundant evidence of such events in places of instability like Kosovo, Afghanistan, and South Africa. Are Yeltsin and Clinton laughing out of mirth? So is laughter the disease or the solution? Pain? An example of a recent and similar incident is an instance of unexplained nausea and dizziness among students at a school in Lancashire, England this past November. The Tanzania Laughter Epidemic Often, people think laughter is the best medicine, but what if medicine isn't the best medicine and turned out to be a disease? According to their article, “ An Epidemic of Laughing in the Bukoba District of Tanganyika ,” the laughing sickness went on for six months. The stress factors here among the schoolgirls may have included the unfamiliar expectations imposed in the British-run schools and the uncertainties created by Tanganyika’s independence, achieved barely a month before the incident. A laughter epidemic happened in 1962 in Tanzania. Two other girls with her also started laughing. The present article discusses the role of laughter in the much cited ‘laughter epidemic’ that occurred in Tanganyika in 1962. “It was just a terrible work environment, nobody wanted to work at the DMV, they had particularly bad supervision there, and they just subconsciously found a way out of the situation that they could copy from each other,” says Hempelmann. When the first episode if what would be called the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic occurred on January 30, 1962 at boarding school in Kashasha, Tanganyika (now Tanzania), no one suspected that what they were seeing would eventually affect over one thousand people. The Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic of 1962 was an outbreak of mass psychogenic illness (MPI) in the vicinity of the village of Kashasha on the western coast of Lake Victoria in the modern nation of Tanzania. Neuroscientist and lecturer Robert R. Provine, in his book “Laughter – A Scientific Investigation” writes that the Tanganyika Laugh Epidemic was a very real event. For decades, "pathological tourists" ended up in asylums or worse. It’s not always this way. By the end of the outbreak over 1000 people afflicted by the mysterious phenomenon. Mass fainting in Tanzania believed to be caused by mass hysteria is an unusually common phenomenon throughout the region, and although it has never been officially linked to the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic, one still has to wonder. Don't miss visiting The Happy Human Store! Maybe, "Have you heard the one about?" Shark attack: Surfer killed in Australian waters by a great white shark that was nearly ten feet long Kawasaki-like disease strikes severely: Children are suffering a great deal from the disease during the global pandemic compared to those in the past Offer available only in the U.S. (including Puerto Rico). Pain? The Tanzania Laughter Epidemic Khalil Freeman the teachers tried everything to get the girls to stop laughing, but despite the disciplinary action the teachers took upon the children, they continued to laugh uncontrollably. The most famous example of a laughter epidemic happened in 1962 in Tanzania (Tanganyika at that time). The most famous example of a laughter epidemic happened in 1962 in Tanzania (Tanganyika at that time). Tanzania Laughter Epidemic When did this take place. It is guaranteed that if you laugh more you will feel better, so look for something to laugh about today! Grab your copy of the happy human today (ebook also available for immediate download), A Minute On Happiness – November 26, 2020, A Minute On Happiness – 22nd October, 2020, A Minute On Happiness – September 24,2020, A Minute On Happiness – September 17, 2020, https://www.thehappyhuman.me/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Happy-human.mp4. Browse and manage your votes from your Member Profile Page, by Began as an innocent chuckle between two girls in a boarding school in the village of Kashasha How it started How long did it last The laughing epidemic lasted from six months to Today it is a proven fact that laughter reduces stress. “It has to express itself bodily, that gives the person a way to say—see I’m suffering; something is going on; I’m not just depressed or withdrawn,” explains Hempelmann. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. “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. However the laughter wasn’t confined to a few girls in a single incident. “You’re saying: You don’t have a valid disease, you don’t have an issue, you’re just being crazy because that gets you out of trouble.” The stigma is still there. Those around us become affected by our outburst of joy and also start laughing. Like Atlas Obscura and get our latest and greatest stories in your Facebook feed. Atlas Obscura and our trusted partners use technology such as cookies on our website to personalise ads, support social media features, and analyse our traffic. Malice? Hysterical hysteria! That is why the laughter epidemic that happened in Tanzania in 1962 where over a thousand people laughed hysterically for over a year is not a laughing joke. The Laughter Epidemic takes the concept of laughter being contagious and cranks it up to a whole new level. The Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962 was an outbreak of mass hysteria, or mass psychogenic illness (MPI), rumored to have occurred in or near the village of Kashasha on the western coast of Lake Victoria in the modern nation of Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) near the border of Kenya. Like us on Facebook to get the latest on the world's hidden wonders. October 22, 2020, 4:36 pm, by Thank you for helping build the largest language community on the internet. The story goes that the laughter started with three girls in a town called Kashasha, and from there the intoxicating guffaws spread to 95 students shutting down school and causing panic. School rooms of children would begin laughing without explanation. The laughter started with three girls and spread throughout the school, affecting 95 of the 159 pupils, aged 12–18. The school ended up being temporarily closed as investigations begun. Offer subject to change without notice. To learn more or withdraw consent, please visit our cookie policy. © 2021 Atlas Obscura. Tanzania, known more for its wildlife than its history of laughter epidemics. Kashasha, near Lake Victoria in Tanzania in 1962: One girl in a boarding school there told another girl a joke. As the investigations continued it was discovered that the laughter epidemic was not confined to just one school in Kashasha. Even though laughter is regarded as a natural form of medicine and has been used as a therapeutic tool for many years, there are negative aspects to it. But laughter is not so simple. (Photo: Lisle Boomer/flickr). September 9, 2019, 12:56 pm Dismiss. Here you'll find all collections you've created before. Please check if there are posts that match all the below criteria. It seems that around the time the epidemic broke out a new government administration was put in place across Tanjanyika which had a very strict policies towards children, schooling and expected outcomes. Hempelmann recalls an instance from his time living in Layafette, Indiana. Well, a village of laughs to be exact. It’s not always this way. The Background:In January of 1962 a young girl in a missionary boarding school in the village of Kashasha started laughing. Some say the claims of what happened in Tanganyika are wildly exaggerated and has developed into an urban legend over the years. A laughter epidemic sounds like a welcome neighborhood contagion. The most famous example of a laughter epidemic happened in Tanzania (then Tanganyika) in 1962, but this kind of psychological behavior happens on … Scott Williams (Photo: Sufferers’ symptoms included recurring attacks of laughing and crying that lasted from a few hours up to 16 days. 20 simple secrets to increase HAPPINESS in your life NOW! Recent developments in the field of laughter, an area of research known as gelotology, include humor and laughter therapy, laughter meditation, and laughter yoga—in which feigned laughter becomes real, bringing with it supposed mind and body benefits. The laughter continued spreading throughout the small school over the following weeks. Scott Williams According to researchers such as Christian Hempelmann, the reason for such events is that there is an underlying shared stress factor within any population. These fits were accompanied by restlessness—aimless running, occasional violence—but there was no evidence of organic causes. Eventually if you are really lucky a group of people including yourself will be rolling around the floor with tears of joy streaming down their faces! The 1962 Laughter Epidemic of Tanganyika Was No Joke. Symptoms of those affected lasted from a few hours to 16 days. About 1,000 people contracted the “illness,” many of them young women and girls. These fits were accompanied by restlessness—aimless running, occasional violence—but there was no evidence of organic causes. Scott Williams When the environment was tested for contaminants, nothing was found, and ultimately the local media reported the case as a sort of mass psychogenic illness. One can look to the Tanganyika epidemic in 1962 to get answers. This page was last changed on 3 October 2018, at 05:13. The Laughter Epidemic, Tanzania, 1962 Rumors about this incident claim that a contagious laughter spread from the village of Kashasha, causing victims to laugh non-stop for months. Workers at the local DMV were exhibiting respiratory distress to the point that the building was repeatedly shut down and eventually relocated. Consider supporting our work by becoming a member for as little as $5 a month. There is no doubt that the event was remarkable. By July two further schools had been shut down as investigations continued into the cause of the happiness hysteria. By the middle of March 1962 two thirds of the students of the missionary boarding school (95 of 159) were experiencing periodic outbursts of uncontrollable laughter. While it did indeed happen, it doesn’t tell us too much about humor, and it annoys Hempelmann when humor researchers use the Tanganyika incident as evidence of laughter being contagious. August 6, 2020, 1:53 pm. October 15, 2020, 2:19 pm, by Rather the laughing epidemic affected around 200 people in the originating village by the end May of 1962. Sign up for our newsletter and enter to win the second edition of our book. Winner will be selected at random on 02/01/2021. The Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962 was an outbreak of mass hysteria – or mass psychogenic illness (MPI) – rumored to have occurred in or near the village of Kashasha on the western coast of Lake Victoria in the modern nation of Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) near the border of Uganda. Much less serious than the Dancing Plague was the Tanganyika laughter epidemic of 1962. Sufferers’ symptoms included recurring attacks of laughing and crying that lasted from a few hours up to 16 days. This incident was recorded in Central African Journal of Medicine titled, ‘An Epidemic of Laughing in the Bukoba District of Tanganyika’ in 1963. This looks like the good kind of laughter. As they begin to recognize recurring, 100 Years Ago, American Women Competed in Intense Venus de Milo Lookalike Contests, The Deadly Irish Epidemic That Helped Bring Dracula to Life, How the Influenza Pandemic Popularized Lemons, How the Black Death Gave Rise to British Pub Culture, How Coronavirus Put an Ancient Flour Mill Back to Work, When Doctors Thought ‘Wanderlust’ Was a Psychological Condition, high school girls in New York who developed facial tics. Scott Williams The laughter epidemic began on January 30, 1962, at a mission-run boarding school for girls in Kashasha. Tanganyika / ˌ t æ ŋ ɡ ə n ˈ j iː k ə / was a sovereign state, comprising the mainland part of present-day Tanzania, that existed from 1961 until 1964.It first gained independence from the United Kingdom on 9 December 1961 as a state headed by Queen Elizabeth II before becoming a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations a year later. Sign in to disable ALL ads. The most famous example of a laughter epidemic happened in Tanzania (then Tanganyika) in 1962, but this kind of psychological behavior happens on a weekly basis around the world, particularly among populations experiencing chronic stress. Your email address will not be published. Forget Vlad the Impaler. It is still spoken almost 60 years after it happened. © 2019 Copyright -Scott Williams International Pty Ltd. In June of 1962 it was reported that the laughter contagion had spread to another school and around 50 people were experiencing uncontrollable fits of laughter. Christian Hempelmann of Texas A&M University, who has done research on the incident, describes the laughter epidemic as a case of. Slowly, it spread beyond their school and region and into other at-risk populations. It had spread to the nearby villages of Nshamba and Bukoba. 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