I know I fell asleep while posting yesterday, so here’s a super-interesting topic to get myself back on track. It’s another episode of That’s SoMG. It didn’t happen to my family, but it happened to a family, so it qualifies, I guess. Well, I make the rules here, so it’s time for…
That’s So Jacob presents:
That’s SoMG: Scandals, Secrets, and Shockers That Will Make You Slap Your Hand Over Your Mouth
Episode 4: The Tromp Family
Victoria/New South Wales, Australia, 2016.
To make a long and convoluted story short, or at least shorter and less convoluted, the nation of Australia has been on edge about the whereabouts and…well, what-abouts of the Tromp family of Silvan, Victoria, Australia, for the past week or so. Here’s a rough timeline:
Monday, August 29 (Day 1): The Tromp family – parents Mark and Jacoba, and children Riana, Ella, and Mitchell – leave their farm in Silvan, Victoria, rather abruptly, taking barely anything with them. Mitchell is the only one who takes a phone, but it gets tossed out of a window later that day.
Tuesday, August 30 (Day 2): The family crosses over into New South Wales, where son Mitchell ditches the group at Bathurst, catching a train home to Melbourne via Sydney. The rest of the group head north and end up at Jenolan Caves, where daughters Ella and Riana bail. Riana is found wandering by the side of the highway near Goulburn. Ella acquires a car (it turns out she actually stole it) and arrives back at the family farm that night.
Wednesday, August 31 (Day 3): The family car surfaces in Wangaratta, Victoria, with no sign of parents Mark or Jacoba. Back in Victoria, Mitchell makes it back to the farm.
Thursday, September 1 (Day 4): Jacoba is found by a couple playing Pokemon Go in Yass, a small town in New South Wales. How she got there from Wangaratta is unclear. Mark is still missing.
Saturday, September 3 (Day 6): Mark is located in Wangaratta and brought home. The whole family, except Jacoba and Riana who are in the hospital, is at home and accounted for. The ordeal – or at least, the family road trip part – is over.
So…what does all this mean?
According to the news.com.au article I read, it’s believed to be some type of mass hysteria known as folie-a-deux or folie-a-plusieurs, which means “madness of many.” It is a type of madness/hysteria which happens to people who are in close quarters for a long period of time, usually people with blood or marital bonds, such as a couple, a pair of siblings, or in this case, a whole family. This condition can lead to paranoia, and even more unsettling behavior, as seen here. It’s entirely possible. The reason why people are speculating in this direction is because the family seemed scared and disoriented, didn’t know why they were going somewhere or where they were going, and if you look at their lives, they seem pretty isolated on a little berry farm in a more rural part of their country. It sounds almost too strange to be true, but it is plausible.
I’m fascinated by this mystery, so here are some of my own theories:
Possible Theory Number 1: Planned disappearance. Maybe they wanted to leave their lives as berry farmers behind and make a new start elsewhere, only for the kids to get cold feet and walk out on their parents. Once that happened and it went public that the parents were still missing, their plot was foiled.
Possible Theory Number 2: Some type of murder plot. A newspaper in the UK just ran a piece the other day on fathers/mothers who kill their families in odd, isolated incidents; maybe one or both of the parents had this in the works. It would explain why each of the children left, for fear of their own lives at the hands of their parents. Maybe they are disoriented because the thought of their deaths, or being killed by their parents, is too much for them to handle. However, the UK article mentioned families with small children, and this family’s children were all in their twenties. Also, were there some sort of struggle, they conceivably could have fought back. So this is less likely.
Possible Theory Number 3: Business ploy. Kind of strange way to go about it, but there have been stranger ways to get people to pay attention to you. Remember Richard and Mayumi Heene and their Balloon Boy stunt? It was also very strange and unexplained, until the littlest one blabbed the truth on live television, which got his parents sent to prison. Although if it were some sort of ploy, I don’t think that they would have gone out of their way to be so uncooperative with the law. For example, Ella stealing a car, and Mark being uncooperative with the police when he was apprehended. Those kinds of things are much more negative than taking a train home or being found and taken to a hospital, which are strange but not illegal. Either way, their farm’s business will never be the same.
I really hope we find out more about this whole deal. Maybe it’ll unlock some sort of secret of the human psyche, or something.
Oh, and in other news, I got a great deal on a Supremes record, some jewelry, and a bamboo wall hanging at the Columbus Antique Mall today.
O’Neill, Marnie. “Is the Tromp family suffering from a rare shared psychotic disorder known as folie à deux?” News.com.au. 5 September 2016.