By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
In response to the recent cases involving 20 female Fr. Gratian Murray Integrated School students in Bacolod City’s Barangay Granada, who were allegedly possessed by an evil spirit earlier this week, the Bacolod City Health Office (CHO) mental health division said they will begin investigating the matter.
CHO psychologist, Dr. Joeanne Marie Jomalesa, said they must find out if the issue is “spiritual” or psychiatric and said it may lead to “mass hysteria.”
Medical journal American Family Physician describes mass hysteria, or mass psychogenic illness, as an instance where “people in a group start to think they might have been exposed to something dangerous, like a germ or a toxin.”
“Many outbreaks of mass psychogenic illness start with an environmental ‘trigger,’ like a bad smell or a rumor of exposure to a poison,” the journal noted. “When one person gets sick, others in the group also start feeling sick.”
Jomalesa said they will talk with the first minor who claimed to be possessed, while an intervention will be administered to the others next week.
She added, members of the Diocese of Bacolod are welcome to join in order to help the affected students from a spiritual aspect.
In response to the reported spirit possession, classes were suspended and the reportedly affected students, who are said to in Grade 8 and Grade 9, were transported to a local church to undergo exorcisms.
School Principal Dionesio Lindugan said classes were suspended to prevent more students from becoming possessed.
The closure also provides an opportunity for the school premises to be blessed and exorcised./DGB, WDJ