I tried last year to interest Mindhacks in garden variety mass spirit possession of junior high school girls in Indonesia, which has been receiving more frequent attention in this country’s burgeoning free press. Of course, that’s a pretty rough translation for this whatcha-gonna-call-it-anyway ailment that — don’t get me wrong — seems to freak everybody out pretty badly, including the patient and those around her.
Anyway, I figured that taking a closer look at these freak-out situations involving a bunch of young women in close proximity (e.g., in a school or factory) would be a pre-req for trying to interpret the tougher case of the Indonesian dude possessed by a monkey spirit last year. Freak out, isn’t exactly the right term. Since the focus is on the objective, physical manifestations of this thing. No one is pretending to know what’s going on in the poor patient’s head. (And of course the patient has no idea either).
Why do I think the Indonesian and New York mystery ailments are related? I don’t. I’m just wondering. I thought maybe Tom Stafford would know. But the weirdest thing — obviously — is the mass part of mass hysteria. Why the hell would it be contagious? On the other hand, why not?
Anyway, Bali is so long on magic, that back in the good old days (as seen in a well-known 1960’s documentary series), Balinese spirit adventure types used to think nothing of getting possessed by jar lids — on purpose — which is entirely counter-intuitive.
Where do I find this stuff? It’s been front-page news in Indonesia and the US. How can you miss it?