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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Thursday, December 5 2002 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster Something's happenin' here

The rock and roll anthem from the Vietnam era of the same title as today's entry, by Buffalo Springfield, seems to describe aspects of charisma, special powers to attract and influence others. Something strange is happening when our spirits are moved, especially when the sources of inspiration are unquantifiable and invisible "energies," "auras," or "vibes" that can't be pinpointed.

What is the connection between what we've been calling charisma and bobby-socked girls going ga-ga and fainting dead away when they see Frank Sinatra (yes, that happened, I've heard), Elvis Presley, the Beatles? Even more strange, why are 35-year-old women having similar reactions to Eminem, who's five years their junior and looks young enough to be their son?

I've been to only one hypnotism show once (not counting television, where anything can be faked) at the County Fairgrounds, in an open-air venue. With what seemed to be absolutely no hokus-pokus, the hypnotist was able to put 20 people under his power in an instant, putting them "to sleep" and causing them to do strange behaviors like mewing like kittens. Is at least part of this power traceable to auras or energies the hypnotist has? Can anyone learn this, or is it inherent and "discovered"? Likewise, though the following is something I've seen only on television, certain healing evangelists or other Pentecostal preachers apparently exercise similar "powers" to put people into hypnotic trances by putting their hands on their heads; the Pentecostals call that being "slain in the spirit," but if there is a connection to hypnosis, what "spirit" does it refer to?

This leads us to ask, what is the root of mass hysteria? There have been accounts of mass hysteria acting like epidemics in certain communities, with people succumbing to diseases that don't exist, but it seems that in the past year there have also been examples of the same in North American public schools. Students in schools from Philadelphia to Seattle have broken out with symptoms that have no apparent source, but have made them unable to function normally.

Even this week the sicknesses on a series of unrelated cruise ships have been in the headlines. I haven't heard anyone call it mass hysteria, but that would be high on my investigative list, were I to look into the phenomenon more closely. Not to mention that seeing someone else be sick tends to make anyone nearby feel nauseous. I know for my part that hearing or reading detailed accounts of sicknesses can make me start feeling symptoms. That, no doubt, speaks to "susceptibility" rather than source, but that may be a key to many of these incidents.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Speaking of "strange"

I have two very rare photographs. One is a picture of Houdini locking his keys in his car. The other is a rare photograph of Norman Rockwell beating up a child."

—Steven Wright

Thought for today

History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon.

—Napoleon Bonaparte

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