Writing

Belgian CocaCola Hysteria

The author then stated the concluding study that food poisoning was not the cause of the outbreak as: These sulfides can cause illness, however, only at levels about a thousand times greater than that. At seventeen parts per billion, they simply leave a bad smell–like rotten eggs–which means that Belgium should have experienced nothing more than a minor epidemic of nose-wrinkling.
The most persuasive support to the writers purpose is the account of sick kids that have not even drunk the allegedly contaminated Coke at all, writing thus: More puzzling is the fact that, in four of the five schools were the bad Coke allegedly struck, half of the kids who got sick hadn’t drunk any Coke that day. Whatever went on Belgium, in other words, probably wasn’t Coca-Cola poisoning. So what was it Maybe nothing at all.
To further strengthen the author’s purpose, he went on to cite case histories and the patterns of mass hysteria made by a noted psychiatrist — Simon Wessely – who had collected hundreds of reports of the phenomenon. Some of these cases and patterns were: In 1787, when millworkers in Lancashire suddenly took ill after they became persuaded that they were being poisoned by tainted cotton. Someone sees a neighbor fall ill and becomes convinced that he is being contaminated by some unseen evil His anxiety makes him dizzy and nauseous. He begins to hyperventilate. He collapses. Other people hear the same allegation, see the "victim" faint, and they begin to get anxious themselves. They feel nauseous. They hyperventilate. They collapse, and before you know it everyone in the room is hyperventilating and collapsing These symptoms, Wessely stresses, are perfectly genuine. It’s just that they are manifestations of a threat that is wholly imagined. "This kind of thing is extremely common," he says, "and it’s almost normal.
The author also cited the studies of the sociologist Robert Bartholomew on mass motor hysteria to explain the Belgian Coca-Cola incident: What happened in Belgium, he says, is a fairly typical example of a more standard form of contagious anxiety, possibly heightened by the recent Belgian scare over dioxin-contaminated animal feed. The students’ alarm over the rotten-egg odor of their Cokes, for example, is straight out of the hysteria textbooks.
The author then summed up the observations made by Simon Wessely and Robert Bartholomew to inform without a doubt the author’s position that the Belgian Coca-Cola outbreak is simply a case of mass hysteria: The fact that the outbreaks occurred in schools is also typical of hysteria cases. "The classic ones always involve schoolchildren," Wessely continued. "There is a famous British case involving hundreds of schoolgirls who collapsed during a 1980 Nottinghamshire jazz festival. They blamed it on a local farmer spraying pesticides." Bartholomew has just published a paper on a hundred and fifteen documented hysteria cases in schools over the past three hundred years. As anyone who has ever been to a rock concert knows, large numbers of adolescents in confined spaces seem to be particularly susceptible to mass hysteria.
Finally, the author quoted Coca-Cola’s chairman, Douglas Ivester, and left a hanging question but which clearly supported his position

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