Winner will be selected at random on 02/01/2021. © 2021 Atlas Obscura. Tough to tell. A 19th-century cholera outbreak in Sligo may have been Bram Stoker's chief inspiration. “If you are referring to somebody as suffering from this, you are in a way still calling them hysterical,” he says. Slowly, it spread beyond their school and region and into other at-risk populations. This is the story about the Tanganyika laughter epidemic that occurred in 1962. Did stress in a small African village trigger a laughter contagion? The present article discusses the role of laughter in the much cited ‘laughter epidemic’ that occurred in Tanganyika in 1962. 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. Kashasha, near Lake Victoria in Tanzania in 1962: One girl in a boarding school there told another girl a joke. (Photo: Sufferers’ symptoms included recurring attacks of laughing and crying that lasted from a few hours up to 16 days. For centuries-old bars, a pandemic is nothing new. Christian Hempelmann of Texas A&M University, who has done research on the incident, describes the laughter epidemic as a case of. Discomfort? 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. 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. Jan 16, 2016 - In 1962 a seemingly unprecedented and bizarre event took place in Tanzania and Uganda. September 24, 2020, 5:28 pm, by Hysterical hysteria! See. The laughter spread like wildfire throughout the school, affecting nearly 60% of the students. In this type of situation, the person has no power over the stress and can come up with no other response. A laughter epidemic happened in 1962 in Tanzania. “You can hear the creaks, smell the grain—you really feel the age of it.”. The fact that the epidemic mainly appeared to affect children and not adults caused this theory to eventually be discounted. Today’s research into the Tanganyika Laugh Epidemic seems to indicate that stress was possibly a leading cause of the epidemic. 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. 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 Atlas Obscura and get our latest and greatest stories in your Facebook feed. It began as an innocent chuckle between two girls in a boarding school in the village of 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. The most famous example of a laughter epidemic happened in 1962 in Tanzania (Tanganyika at that time). For decades, "pathological tourists" ended up in asylums or worse. Today it is a proven fact that laughter reduces stress. A laughter epidemic sounds like a welcome neighborhood contagion. The Happy Human is the new book from Australia's Laughter Specialist Scott Williams. The Laughter Epidemic takes the concept of laughter being contagious and cranks it up to a whole new level. Scott Williams (Photo: Public Domain/WikiCommons). If not, remove the wrong ones in the widget settings. It is still spoken almost 60 years after it happened. 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. or "A Jew, an Indian, and Herbert Hoover walk into a bar …" or "Take my wife, please … Yet cases like the group of high school girls in New York who developed facial tics continue to perplex the media. 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! As the investigations continued it was discovered that the laughter epidemic was not confined to just one school in Kashasha. 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. The first three victims were teenage girls though the laughing quickly spread to the rest of the school with 95 of the nearly 200 … Symptoms of those affected lasted from a few hours to 16 days. The laughter epidemic began on January 30, 1962, at a mission-run boarding school for girls in Kashasha. Thank you for helping build the largest language community on the internet. If you are suffering the affects of stress consider setting up a daily laughter plan to increase your laughter levels . (Photo: CC Tanzania). Pain? 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. (Photo: Lisle Boomer/flickr). The most famous example of a laughter epidemic happened in Tanzania (then Tanganyika) in 1962, but this kind of psychological behavior happens on … 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. It is guaranteed that if you laugh more you will feel better, so look for something to laugh about today! All rights reserved. Get the latest stories straight into your inbox! Tanzania, known more for its wildlife than its history of laughter epidemics. Hempelmann recalls an instance from his time living in Layafette, Indiana. Those around us become affected by our outburst of joy and also start laughing. 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. Are Yeltsin and Clinton laughing out of mirth? There is no doubt that the event was remarkable. September 17, 2020, 11:19 am, by 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! (Photo: Are Yeltsin and Clinton laughing out of mirth? The […] Let’s take a … 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. We depend on ad revenue to craft and curate stories about the world’s hidden wonders. 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. 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. “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. Psychogenic illness has all kinds of so-called nerve symptoms, he explains, and laughter is just one of them. There were reported cases of the laughter outbreak lasting up to sixteen days in some individuals. 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. 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. It’s not always this way. Please click below to consent to the use of this technology while browsing our site. The Tanganyika laughter epidemic is when an outbreak of laughter occurred in Tanganyika (which is modern day Tanzania), in 1962. We have all experienced at some point in our lives a mini version of the Tanganyika Laugh Epidemic where we have commenced uncontrollable laughter. Today’s research into the Tanganyika Laugh Epidemic seems to indicate that stress was possibly a leading cause of the epidemic. 65 Views. According to researchers such as Christian Hempelmann, the reason for such events is that there is an underlying shared stress factor within any population. Scott Williams According to their article, “ An Epidemic of Laughing in the Bukoba District of Tanganyika ,” the laughing sickness went on for six months. One can look to the Tanganyika epidemic in 1962 to get answers. Two other girls with her also started laughing. It spread throughout nearby villages, infecting mostly young girls. Tanzania Laughter Epidemic When did this take place. 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. Forget Vlad the Impaler. A laughter yoga session, where laughter is actually supposed to be contagious. Required fields are marked *. The school was closed in March 18, 1962 shortly after the outbreak of laughter since the students couldn't concentrate on their studies. But laughter is not so simple. 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. Get the latest stories straight into your inbox before everyone else! Every weekday we compile our most wondrous stories and deliver them straight to you. Follow us on Twitter to get the latest on the world's hidden wonders. Pain? So is laughter the disease or the solution? “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. A epidemic of the happiest kind broke out in a small African village in 1962. Children passing saw the girls laughing and although unaware of what had provoked such a joyous outburst among the girls, also started laughing. 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. Malice? However the laughter wasn’t confined to a few girls in a single incident.