Like something straight out of The Crucible, 12 girls in Upstate New York have fallen suddenly ill, displaying acute symptoms such as verbal outbursts and tics. Unlike Abigail Williams et al., these young women—who all attend LeRoy Junior Senior High School in LeRoy, NY— are no fakers, having had their mysterious disorder legitimized by a still somewhat-bewildered medical community.

Neurologist Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, who has worked with the girls for the last three months, has recently diagnosed them with "conversion disorder" or mass hysteria, a condition that, though rare, does occur. He says, "It's happened before, all around the world, in different parts of the world. It's a rare phenomena."

What triggered the disorder in two dozen seemingly unrelated girls is still unclear. Their school has conducted environmental reports, all concluding that the school buildings have no negative affect on the students' physical health. Mass hysteria can also occur after a stressful event, but in this case, symptoms appeared after incidents as low stress as an afternoon nap.

"I was perfectly fine. There was nothing going on, and then I just woke up, and that's when the stuttering started," said Thera Sanchez, one of the students showing symptoms.

Luckily for Sanchez and the others, Dr. Mechtler is confident that the girls will recover with the help of therapy, saying, "The bottom line is these teenagers will get better."


Teen Girls' Mystery Illness Now Has a Diagnosis: Mass Hysteria [The Today Show]