Warning: Distressing Content
Disturbing footage released on social media purports to show an 11-year-old in Jamaica shaking and screaming in what locals believe to be one of a series of cases of ‘demonic possession’ on the Caribbean island.
The schoolgirl’s mother, Audrey Smith, has called for the authorities to step in, claiming her daughter and her schoolmates are possessed by demons.
Smith said their school, Ginger Hill All-Age School in St Elizabeth, dug up graves to accommodate a new building extension, resulting in the release of demons.
The claim that demons are responsible for the strange behaviour of at least seven children gained strength on Wednesday the girls became even more erratic at school.
Smith said a teacher asked her to accompany her daughter to school because of the unusual episodes.
She told The Jamaican Weekend Star: “I know that it is a demon in my child because I go to church and I plea for demons out of people. I am not a fool.”
The mass ‘demonic possessions’ seem to be similar to an April 2016 case of mass hysteria which broke out in a Malaysian school after students and teachers spotted a black figure.
— Philip Golingai (@PhilipGolingai) April 18, 2016
But sociologist Robert Bartholomew thought the explanation was much simpler than an evil spirit.
Speaking to the BBC at the time, Bartholomew said the incident was a ‘textbook outbreak’ of mass hysteria, which usually occur in small groups in enclosed surrounding such as schools, orphanages and factories. It’s defined as ‘the spontaneous and rapid spread of false or exaggerated beliefs within a population’, and is also called conversion disorder.
So was Ginger Hill All-Age School really suffering from a mass outbreak of demonic possessions, or was it a much simpler explanation?