The Salem Twitch Trials*

Yesterday was the first time I heard about the kids in New York with ‘mysterious tics.’ I’ll admit it, the very first thing I thought was, ‘they’re full of it.’ But I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, until they keep reaching for fantasy instead of facing facts.

If the story is news to you, 16 teenagers in Le Roy, New York have developed Tourette’s-like symptoms. Their parents are pretty upset at neurologists who are saying that it’s an episode of mass psychogenic illness, due to more likely explanations being ruled out.

Heaven forbid their children have any kind of *gasp* mental illness. Environmental contaminants that only affect teenagers, almost exclusively female, would be a much more sensible explanation. Really??

That’s the part that pisses me off. People so terrified of being stigmatized with any kind of psychological disorder are refusing to accept a reasonable diagnosis, and are instead trying to blame their problems on a train wreck that happened in 1970.

But professionals aren’t saying that these kids are faking it. They’re trying to explain their illness. Why doesn’t it make sense to these parents that because one of their children’s peers developed an exotic disease, their kids got nervous?

Guess what, guys. Psychological discomfort can cause physiological problems. Have none of these people ever seen a rash and started to itch? Have they not seen a guy get hit in the junk and winced in sympathy?

I’m willing to bet that the more media attention this thing gets, the more widespread it will become. But what do I know, right? I’m not a doctor. Oh, wait, all the doctors are wrong anyway. Okay.

I just hate that a purely physical problem is so much more welcome an explanation than anything having to do with the taint of mental illness. Not to mention the fact that a bunch of silly girls somehow deserve so much airtime.

Maybe somebody should call Erin Brockovich’s attention to infertility. That’d raise some awareness.

*I’m not apologizing for the title. Just pointing out that sometimes mass hysteria gets you burned at the stake, sometimes it’s headline news.