Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Alleged ghost in Bangladesh factory bathroom causes shutdown

After a woman working in a Bangladesh factory claimed to have been attacked by a ghost, a massive wave of panic swept through the workers, who rioted and refused to work. Police were eventually able to disperse the riot, and the workers will soon return to the factory once it has been spiritually cleansed.

The attack and aftermath

The incident began when a woman used the bathroom and felt sick afterward. She then claimed that her sickness was caused by a ghost attack, though did not say that she had actually seen the apparition. This claim was enough to rile up more than 3,000 factory employees, who would not return to work until the ghost had been removed from the toilet.

Some of the workers even took to vandalizing the factory before they were controlled by police. A riot also took place, but was controlled by police with tear gas, according to Live Science.

In order to calm the workers down, owners shut down the factory for several days, while holding ritual prayers. Whether or not the panic was truly caused by a ghost, the prayers effectively combated the symptoms.

Mass hysteria

This situation and others like it is often considered mass hysteria. Mass hysteria, officially known as mass sociogenic illness, occurs when people convert their stress into physical symptoms. This syndrome spreads from one person to another and often results in panic. Sometimes, like in the factory in Bangladesh, the panic can turn into strikes and riots.

The contagion will often spread through groups of people who are in the same workplace or school and undergo routine stress. A loud and cramped factory in Bangladesh is a place where mass hysteria could easily happen, especially considering that many of the workers, often part of the Muslim Bangladeshi population, incorporate ghosts and other supernatural phenomenon as a part of their religion, Live Science noted.

In Southwest Asia, there have been many similar incidents to the above in recent weeks, which involve workers all feeling similar symptoms of a mysterious illness. Some of this is attributed to the mindset of workers and factory owners after the collapse of a factory in Bangladesh this past April that killed many workers.

An article in the British Journal of Psychiatry states that "Mass sociogenic illness is an under-appreciated social problem that is both underreported and often a significant financial burden to responding emergency services, public health and environmental agencies and the affected school or occupation site, which is often closed for days or weeks."