When Psychiatry Attacks: ‘Mass hysteria’ afflicts teen girls in upstate NY

Recently, a mysterious neurological ailment has afflicted at least a dozen teenaged girls — and one 36-year old woman, and one male, apparently — in upstate New York.  The experts have concluded that, because none of their tests revealed any useful information, that the group is suffering from — wait for it — mass hysteria.  Yes that’s right: the “H” word, the one that has been used by doctors (and laymen!) for over a century, to discount the suffering of women and to dismiss their reports of having been violently and sexually abused by men.  If you thought they didn’t use that word anymore, well, I guess you were wrong.

Helpfully, a psychiatrist and professor recently mansplained the following to CNN:

When I teach psychiatry to medical residents, the first thing I tell them is that patients’ stories always make sense. No matter how bizarre a person’s symptoms might be, our lives follow a human logic, and they follow a medical logic. When a story doesn’t make sense, it means you don’t know the real story.

Medical stories that don’t make sense are often big news makers, precisely because they don’t make sense. Sometimes, they titillate our hunger for the unexplained. Sometimes, they capture our attention because the medical uncertainty frightens us.

[…]

So what should a psychiatrist — or any other type of doctor for that matter — do if a story doesn’t make sense? Continue to gather information until the real story emerges. How do you know that the real story has finally emerged? Because it makes sense.

Let’s apply that logic to the situation of the afflicted young people of Le Roy.

Bahaha!  That’s what’s passing as “logic” now?  Okay!  Get your male-centric, misogynistic lenses on, straighten them up, and begin viewing the world like psychiatrists are taught to do in medical school.  Question number one: how can we interpret or spin the facts so that they make sense are consistent with our warped and politically-charged worldview whereby men are the default humans and never do anything wrong, and women always lie, or at the very least are bizarre defective humans that we (men) benefit very much from pretending we don’t understand?

On why a Tourette’s diagnosis doesn’t “make sense” to Dr. Raison’s man-brain:

Their symptoms most closely resemble a neurological condition called Tourette ‘s syndrome. Patients suffering with Tourette’s are bedeviled by a wide variety of nonsensical movements or speech acts that occur involuntarily, and that are called tics. Tics are involuntary but can usually be briefly controlled if a patient concentrates. If you ask a someone with Tourette’s why he or she engages in such odd behavior, you will be told about an intense sense of internal discomfort that is only relieved by doing the tic, and then only briefly.

At first glance, Tourette’s syndrome is an attractive explanation for the Le Roy tic epidemic. It occurs in young people. It causes very similar symptoms. And despite its often catastrophic effect on people’s lives, it is not associated with any easily identifiable abnormalities in the brain or body that provide an easy diagnostic test for doctors. It can be diagnosed only by its symptoms.

But I can assure you that the young people of Le Roy do not have Tourette’s for one simple reason: It is a rare condition and it is a solitary disorder. Genetic risks for the disorder exist, including a vulnerability to develop a subtle autoimmune condition of the brain following a streptococcal infection in childhood. But Tourette’s is not contagious. It never occurs in an epidemic form such as the mystery illness in New York state.

Okay.  I’m not a medical doctor, but why does he assume that whatever is happening here is “contagious”?  He just pulled that out of his ass.  It’s not Tourette’s because the condition afflicting the girls in upstate New York is contagious, and Tourette’s isn’t contagious.  Cancer isn’t “contagious” either, and yet we have “cancer clusters.”  And he seems fixated on Tourette’s specifically, but I’m sure the girls don’t care if their disorder has a famous name or not.  It’s as if this dood is failing to acknowledge that there could be other diseases somewhat like Tourette’s in some ways (but not all ways) that the male medical machine hasn’t discovered yet.

On why an infectious cause doesn’t “make sense” to the good doctor either:

Even if you didn’t know that all blood tests in the affected young people have been normal, you could effectively rule out infection for one very simple reason: All but one of the people who have developed tics are female, and all but one are teenagers. Have you ever heard of a virus, bacteria or parasite that, in essence, infects only teenage girls? (Or more exactly, that only causes illness in teenage girls.)

Well, no, I haven’t ever heard of such a thing, but the thing is that this isn’t what we are dealing with here: apparently, there is one male victim, and one that’s not a teenager.  What he really means, I guess, is if you are male, you better hope you are never afflicted with something where you are the only male in a group of female victims, because the docs will just completely ignore you and toss you into the “hysteria” dustbin with all the crazy laydees.

On why an environmental cause doesn’t “make sense” to him either:

The school district has conducted fairly rigorous tests of the school environment and found nothing abnormal. That doesn’t overly impress me, however, because it is always possible to miss a poison that is currently not well understood. Moreover, as the environmental activist Erin Brockovich has made public knowledge, a toxic chemical spill occurred in the area surrounding the school many years ago.

But the problem with an environmental explanation is similar to the problem with an infectious one. Why would a poison in the environment almost exclusively target female teenagers? And unless the poison was brand new in the environment, why would so many people get so terribly sick so quickly? Why would a toxic spill that occurred years ago only now cause illness, and do it so quickly in such a select population?

Translation: I don’t know what the fuck is happening here, but the sexxxay, sexxxay “mass hysteria” diagnosis only makes sense if I keep glossing over the fact that there are two victims who are not female teenagers.

He continues:

When the mystery illness is examined in this way, it becomes apparent why doctors have ascribed it to a psychological condition called conversion disorder.

LOL.  Examined in what way?  Oh, you mean the way in which you keep spinning and ignoring the facts?

But does this explanation hold up better than infectious or environmental ones?

Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Although we don’t understand what causes conversion disorders, the fact that they exist is indisputable. I’ve seen hundreds of them over the years.

Yes, you heard it here first: conversion disorders exist, because I personally have seen them, and diagnosed them based on the criteria that someone made up at some point, but I’m going to pretend are really neutral and objective and that I (somehow) have access to the absolute truth that’s not colored by misogyny and a history of megalomaniacal doctors who go to “surprising” lengths all the time to deliberately hurt women, to protect men, and to mask both their own professional incompetence and the demonstrable fact that they don’t know everything.

I wish these teenaged girls (and one adult female and one man) the best of luck.  They are going to need it.

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