CMS students may have suffered from psychosomatic syndrome


By Evi Tarshis ’20


Coleytown Middle School was forced to evacuate due to the concerning discovery of mold within the school on Sept. 17. Many believed the mold was  the cause of sickness striking significant portions of the student body. Symptoms varied from light headaches to reports of kids claiming they were unable to breathe. However, the range of these symptoms led me to question if these kids were really sick, or if they were instead experiencing the effects of psychosomatic syndrome.

Psychosomatic syndrome is a physical disease that is thought to be caused or exacerbated by mental factors.

Days prior to the evacuation, it was reported that over 50 kids had been absent from school due to the mold, however Superintendent Dr. Colleen Palmer explained how difficult it was for the nursing staff to determine if the presenting health issues were impacted by the anxiety of those in the school in addition to any other symptoms. Simply put, the nurses couldn’t tell the cause for the students’ illnesses, and it is possible that the “symptoms” were just in the students’ heads.

Sharon K. Farber is a psychian who devotes her life to learning more about the connection between the mind and body. According to her studies, psychosomatic illnesses may seem to be physical, but they truly originate in one’s emotions as well as mental wellness.  When people know they are at high risk of becoming ill, it becomes just as hard for them to tell if they really feel sick or if it is just the anxiety that is causing symptoms.

Shannon Lynch ’22 has attended Coleytown Middle School for almost three years. While she did not get sick from the mold, about 20 of her personal friends claimed to be ill. She said some of them might have been “faking or over exaggerating” it.  

Maybe it was really mold causing real illnesses.  But there is also enough evidence to suggest that the trauma of the incident may have led these students to believe they were much more ill then they truly were.