– Brockovich barred from investigating mystery teen neurological illness (Natural News, Mar 4, 2012):
Last fall, 12 teenage girls at LeRoy High School in upstate NY started exhibiting Tourette’s-like symptoms of tics and verbal outbursts. Since thenfourteen teenage girls and one boy have exhibited similar symptoms.
Worried parents feared an infectious disease epidemic. However, a complete review of the air quality and mold in the school buildings by the state department of health and a private agency hired by the school found no substances that could cause health problems.
The afflicted students were said to be involuntarily shaking and jerking in their necks and heads. One student who did not want to be identified said it started when she woke up from a nap and could not speak because the shaking was so severe, according to WKBW. Some of the troubled studentssufferingfromthe strange outbreak have posted videos on YouTube and appeared on U.S. television to respond to claims that they are faking their symptoms.
After much speculation, Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, a neurologist who has treated10 of the girls, identified the cause of the outbreak as a rare, stress-induced condition known as conversion disorder or “mass hysteria,” a psychological problem that can occur in groups such as teenage girls.
According to Mechtler, one of the girls — the “index case” — may have a neurological disorder. Suddenly the symptoms spread and several other girlsbeganexhibitingthe same strange behavior.
“The girls are not faking it,”Mechtler told Matt Lauer on the Today show. “This is a subconscious effect that occurs in patients that may be prone to anxiety or mood disorders.” The most famous case of mass hysteria was the well known Salem Witch Trials.
U.S.television doctor Drew Pinsky disagrees with Mechtler’s diagnosis. After meeting some of the girls, he felt their symptoms smack more of biology than psychiatry. Some parents have disputed the mass hysteria diagnosis as well and feel that officials should investigate further the possibility that an environmental toxin has attacked the nervous system of these girls. Their concern comes on the heels of reports of an orange-yellow substance oozing up from the school’s sports ground.
Erin Brockovich to the Rescue
At the request of local parents, leading environmental activist Erin Brockovich stepped in and sent her team out to test the area for clues to a possible chemical spill that would explain the oozing
substance and possibly the cause of the strange symptoms. She is looking into a 1970 train accident that spilled cyanide and an industrial solvent called trichloroethene close to the site of the school.
A member of her team, Bob Bowcock, inspected ground water and soil at a nearby park for anything out of the ordinary. But whenthe team tried to collect soil samples, local police and school officials blocked their attempt by placing locks on all the entrances to the sports field until the school superintendent and a district spokesman arrived, reported NBC’s Rochester, NY,station. Officials did agree to let parents, Bowcock and his team walk the grounds, without media, if they agreed to not take samples.
According to school superintendent Kim Cox, the decision to prevent the sample taking was “to avoid striking more fear into the already confused town of 7,500 people.” Said Cox: “This has taken us away from our mission to return normality to our school district, which every medical professional says is critical for the health and well-being of all students.”
Sources for this article include
About the author:
Sharon Heller, PhD is a developmental psychologist who specializes in books on holistic solutions for anxiety, panic and sensory processing disorder. She is the author of several popular psychology books including Anxiety: Hidden Causes, Why your anxiety may not be “all in your head” but from something physical (Symmetry, 2011) and Too Loud, Too Bright, Too Fast, Too Tight, What to do if you are sensory defensive in an overstimulating world (HarperCollins, 2002).