Anyone remember when planking was a trend?
Back in 2011, planking took the Internet by storm. The stunt involved people randomly lying face down and motionless (as if passed out or dead) in order to elicit a few good laughs and snap some photos.
But come to find out, planking actually has a far more creepier history than any of us could have imagined.
During the Victorian era, people were often buried alive because they suffered from a condition called catalepsy. Catalepsy occurs when the body’s muscles become so rigid that it renders a person unresponsive and immobile, despite them being awake. This condition is frequently diagnosed in patients with schizophrenia. Patients can maintain a pose in which someone places them, sometimes for very long periods of time.
Premature burials happened so regularly that folks were worried it would happen to them. They were called taphophobics–fearful of being buried alive.
One solution medical professionals came up with in the late 1800s was to keep bodies in a waiting mortuary, or “hospital for the dead.” Corpses would be watched by nurses around the clock for a few days to make sure they were actually dead. If they began to stink or decompose, it was time to be put into the ground.
The photographs above show just how fascinated people were with the condition, which closely resembles what we know today as planking. When a person was under the spell of catalepsy, they were unable to feel any pain, which is probably why someone thought it was okay to stand on top of them.