Is Jakarta School the Latest Site of a ‘Possession’ Epidemic?
As if inter-school brawling and homicidal clashes weren’t enough, mass student possession reportedly afflicted a state junior high school in West Jakarta on Wednesday.
“There were more than 20 students suffering mass possession,” a gym teacher at SMP 229 in the Kebon Jeruk neighborhood told Antara news agency. “At 11 a.m. during recess time, there was someone who shouted hysterically and cried. Other students got panicked and possessed.”
According to a student named Intan, an eighth-grade pupil suddenly faint. Another student told her friends that she saw the ghost of an old man in the motorcycle parking.
A student that was reportedly possessed named Nanda said most of the students became possessed near the school’s health office and bathrooms. She claimed that someone pulled her from behind, causing her to suddenly faint.
Teachers at SMP 229 read the Koran and tried to calm down the other students before sending all the students home early on Wednesday.
On the same day, 11 students of state high school SMU 2 in Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands, also reportedly suffered similar experiences. The students were said to be studying when suddenly they began screaming hysterically. Teachers there brought the affected youths to the local mosque.
Twelfth grader Fachrul Riza said those 11 students had been possessed at the school several times before.
“The voices coming out of the students were the voices of a genie,” according to Edi Efendi, an SMU 2 teacher who added that such phenomena had been taking place as far back as three years ago. “Usually possession in this school would happen after it happened in SMU 5 and SMU 4.”
In Bali, 15 students of state senior high school SMU 1 in Buleleng district were also reportedly gripped by possession. It was the third paranormal occurrence at the school, prompting administrators to call on the services of a psychic.
But Rosita Magdalena, a psychiatrist of Cikini Hospital, told the Jakarta Globe that the incidents were not a matter of possession, but more about a copycat tendency in which students imitated the behavior of other students.
“To put it simply, one student shouted [and] other students became afraid, leading them to be hysterical too,” she said. “When they’re too afraid, the nerve system works in certain ways that [are normally] suppressed and causes an imbalance, leading them to faint.”
According to her, students with “weak personalities” were more easily frightened and prone to imitation. She also mentioned upbringing as a factor that could potentially contribute to such behavior.
“It commonly happens in public schools with weak personality education,” she said.