New Hot Trends for Teens: Mass Hysteria and Hypnosis

Adults on TV shows are very fond of asking the teens with whom they are acquainted (typically via familial ties but occasionally through non-sexual mentoring relationships) "If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you?"

Well, it seems the answer is a very firm "Yes."

Mass hysteria and mass hypnosis are spreading across North America like unstoppable waves of mass hysteria and mass hypnosis.

The hysteria in question first took root in upstate New York a few months ago and, disappointingly, has largely abated before a proper witch trial could take shape.

Back in January, 18 teenage girls (and one thirty-six year old woman who's not like those other moms; she's a cool mom) from the rural town of Le Roy garnered national attention when they began exhibiting involuntary jerks, tics, and shouts.

Experts stated that the outbursts were likely a manifestation of mass hysteria—a problem which intensified as media fixation with the problem intensified.

Parents (and Erin Brockovich) said there was something in the air or water poisoning Le Roy's children.

A preliminary series of tests performed by the New York State Health Department found no environmental factors out of the ordinary that might have been to blame for the behavior.

Now The Buffalo News has reported that a second study—this one a 6,000 page $70,000 analysis of Le Roy's air, soil, and water—has...also found nothing out of the ordinary.

Mass hysteria it is.

But, while America's problems are hysterical, Canada's are mesmerizing.

Hypnotizing.

Hyp mo tizin'.

In Quebec, at a private school for jeunes filles, several 12 and 13-year-old girls attending a fun, end-of-the-year hypnotism assembly were left in a collective trance for five hours after the rookie hypnotist holding the thing was unable to rouse them.

While Maxime Nadeau, the hypnotist who will never hypnotize in this town again, said in an interview he "wasn't stressed" when the girls failed to snap out of their trances because it meant they were "in a state of well-being," five hours is a rather long time for a cocky amateur hypnotist to leave young girls unresponsive.

Eventually, Nadeau summoned his mentor (who, evidently, did not do a great job with this one) to the school for an emergency intervention.

Here's how that man, Richard Whitbread, described the scene:

"There were a couple of students who had their heads lying on the table and there were [others] who, you could tell, were in trance," he said. "The eyes were open and there was nobody home."

It kind of sounds from the CBC news report like he snapped them out of the trance just by yelling at them to snap out of the damn trance.

Whitbread added that the girls were likely extra vulnerable to the hypnotic hypnotisms of his protégé because Nadeau is "a young, attractive man," though he generously added that the guy's inexperience may also have played a tiny part.

Nadeau reportedly received about 14 hours of instruction before being sent out into the world to turn Canada's youths into his personal zombie army.

Hypnotism is not recommended for people under the age of 14 (school administrators later learned).

[Buffalo News via LiveScience // CBC News via Daily Mail // Image via Shutterstock/Mark Grenier]