Mass Hysteria grips New York's Le Roy high school
It's textbook mass hysteria: teenaged girls, bizarre symptoms, fast spreading by word of mouth. But none of the parents want to admit it.
The doctors have tried to tell her every way they know how over the past three months: delicately, constantly, even urgently. But as Heather Parker sips coffee in her weathered clapboard house, she still isn’t buying that the Tourette’s-like twitches that have consumed her 17-year-old daughter, Lydia, since she woke up from an October nap are a product of a psychological disorder, not a physical one.
“I just can’t make sense of it, it’s just so obvious that something is really wrong in her body,” says Parker, a single mother with a ponytail and glasses who’s lived all her life around Le Roy, a town of 7,500 near Rochester, where, before a slew of teenage girls started reporting such tics, the only attraction of note was the Jell-O museum. Beside her sits Lydia, an unhappy-looking girl with coal-black dyed hair whose right arm swings like an orchestra conductor’s every five seconds or so. Lydia, a senior, hasn’t been in school since the tics started. She’s supposed to be going to her tutor, but often she can’t get herself out of bed, so now she may have to drop out and get a GED. “She was going to be the first person in the family to finish high school, but because of what’s happened to her health, that doesn’t look good now,” says her mother.
When the girls—there are more than 20 of them now, with four new cases last week alone—started reporting similar symptoms, it didn’t take long for the TV cameras to descend. Since January, there have been dozens of crews crowding the counter at places like Java’s on Main, the local coffee shop, clutching tripods and cappuccinos, hoping for footage of the girls and their parents. In the past few weeks, producers from Good Morning America, The Today Show, Dr. Drew, and Anderson Cooper 360 have swooped in, offering anxious moms a chance to go on air with their daughters, to beg for answers.
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