Laughter Epidemic vs COVID-19 Pandemic

Mass hysteria (also known as mass psychogenic illness, collective hysteria, group hysteria, or collective obsessional behaviour) is a phenomenon that transmits collective illusions of threats, whether real or imaginary, through a population in society as a result of rumours and fear.


Psychogenic Illness” — that is, a condition that begins in the mind, rather than in the body. Physiological symptoms, however, are often not illusory but very much real.
Mass hysteria is also described as a “conversion disorder,” in which a person has physiological symptoms affecting the nervous system in the absence of a physical cause of illness, and which may appear in reaction to psychological distress.

Mass hysteria around COVID-19 will kill more people than the virus itself. We need to drop the stress level. We need to take proactive approach and find counteractive coping response to it. I have a suggestion…

Have you ever heard of epidemic of laughter?

The 1962 Laughter Epidemic of Tanganyika was no joke (sounds thrilling, isn’t it?). The Tanganyika laughter epidemic was an outbreak of mass hysteria – or mass psychogenic illness (MPI) – rumored to have occurred in or near the village of Kashasha on the western coast of Lake Victoria in the modern nation of Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika) near the border with Uganda.

According to Wikipedia, the laughter epidemic began on January 30, 1962, at a mission-run boarding school for girls in Kashasha. It started with three girls and spread throughout the school, affecting 95 of the 159 pupils, aged 12–18. Symptoms lasted from a few hours to 16 days. The teaching staff were unaffected and reported that students were unable to concentrate on their lessons. They even had to close the school on March 18!

The epidemic spread to Nshamba, a village where several of the girls lived. In April and May, 217 mostly young villagers had laughing attacks. The Kashasha school reopened on May 21, and reclosed at the end of June. Earlier that month, the laughing epidemic spread to Ramashenye girls’ middle school, near Bukoba, affecting 48 girls.

The Kashasha school was sued for allowing the children and their parents to transmit it to the surrounding area. Other schools, Kashasha itself, and another village were affected to some degree. Eighteen months after it started, the phenomenon died off. The laughter reports were widely accompanied by descriptions of fainting, flatulence, respiratory problems, rashes, crying and screaming. In all, 14 schools were shut down and 1000 people were affected.

Later on it was theorized that the episode was stress-induced. In 1962, Tanganyika had just won its independence, and students had reported feeling stressed because of higher expectations by teachers and parents. MPI (Mass Psychogenic Illness) usually occurs in people without a lot of power. “MPI is an easy way for people to express that something is wrong.” Laughter isn’t just a joyful noise; it can be a signal of distress. Currently, COVID-19 caused the world’s population to experience abnormally high level of stress. Distress accumulates and has to way to get out. People need to decompress. People need to drop this stress. People need to laugh. I am sick of seeing grumpy faces on the streets, cars, grocery stores. Anywhere I go, only few folks would say hi or smile. This is not right. This is not the world I want to live in.

Smile is contagious. Laughter is contagious. If you did not forget how to laugh or smile – you are the walking biological weapon. You have the power to start the laughter epidemic in your community, neighbourhood, city, or maybe the country.
Stress weakens your immune system, it kills you slowly.

Laughter – is The Best Medicine!

  1. Laughter is Contagious
  2. Laughter Reduces the Stress Response. We need it like the air right now!
  3. Laughter Combats Depression. Yes! Unleash your depression on me, I will knock it out will my laughter.
  4. Laughter Boosts Immunity. According to one study done at Indiana State School of nursing, laughter may increase natural killer cell levels, a type of white blood cell that attacks cancer AND Corona Virus cells. (Just take my word for it)
  5. Laughter Increases Resilience. Resilience is the ability to see failure as natural progression to success rather than as a negative outcome. People who are resilient are happier and more successful.

Learn from Best

Starting tomorrow you:

  • Make humour a priority by reading a funny book, watching a comedy, or listening to your favorite comedian etc. I don’t care, but do something, figure out how to make yourself smile. If nothing seem to help you crack that smile – fake it.
  • Share laughter with the people around. You are the walking biological weapon, remember?
  • Remember that life is not meant to suffer. The ability to laugh at yourself makes you attractive to others and can help relieve your own stress. Find something in your day to laugh about and then tell a friend your funny story, write it on Facebook or Instagram. Share your laughter, make others smile with you.
  • Know what isn’t funny. Laughing at the expense of others isn’t funny. Be discerning about your humour by laughing with—not at—people. 

I want to set the world on laughter epidemic. I need help. I need you to spread this message and remind people to LAUGH. Folks, wearing the mask doesn’t mean you can’t/shouldn’t smile.

Take a marker and draw the smile on your mask

Don’t be so SERIOUS
Be friendly – Be approachable!