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Friday, April 6, 2007

Mystery Illness Psychological?

About 600 of the 1400 girls who attend the Villa de las Ninas school outside Mexico City have been stricken by a mysterious disease authorities say is "80% psychological." The girls apparently complained of harsh treatment and heavy discipline. The most significant symptoms include nausea and difficulty walking.

Authorities seem to insist this strict environment is what is causing this "mystery illness." Mother Superior Margie Cheong denied the allegations, but admitted she should have informed parents of the illness earlier. It first started appearing in the students last October. She said she would take responsibility if authorities decide this strict discipline is the crux of the matter.

Now, when I was a kid, the principal of my elementary school put a stoplight in the cafeteria. True story. It was wired for sound. See, the cafeteria had become really, really loud and the teachers and at least some of the students were constantly complaining about the noise, so this was his solution. Unfortunately for me, I happened to be blamed for talking two days in a row when I honestly was not! I forget what the punishment was, but it was based on a three-strikes rule and I'm pretty sure the result was corporal in nature. Of course, my stomach - quite literally - got tied in knots. It was so bad that I couldn't even go to school for a few days! So the idea that this mystery illness is psychological in nature holds some water.

But in a totally unrelated article, Japanese scientists have determined that some strains of flu are showing amazing resistance to powerful, and widely-used, anti-flu drugs. This got me to wondering if maybe these young women weren't being afflicted by something of that nature. Of course, I have no idea what the other symptoms are, nor any other details aside from those I gave you, but it's food for thought.

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