(cross-posted to Frequently Felt)
Genital retraction syndrome (GRS), generally considered a culture-specific syndrome, is a condition in which an individual is overcome with the belief that his/her external genitals—or also, in females, breasts—are retracting into the body, shrinking, or in some male cases, may be imminently removed or disappear. A penis panic is a mass hysteria event or panic in which males in a population suddenly believe they are suffering from genital retraction syndrome.
In cases where the fear of the penis being retracted is secondary to other conditions, psychological diagnosis and treatments are under development. It is becoming increasingly clear that these forms of mass hysteria are more common than previously thought.
Sudanese victims were made to believe by force of suggestion that their penises would melt away after they shook hands, shared a comb, or received a verbal curse. The so-called "penis-melting" has been blamed on Zionists trying to wipe out the Sudanese people by making their men unable to reproduce.
Sudanese police investigated the claims and have found no evidence of anything supernatural, and that it is likely a hoax which victims believed through the power of suggestion. Mr. Abul-Gasim Mohamed Ibrahim, Sudan's Minister of Health, issued official statements to calm the public's fears.
Local media also contributed to the idea's spread. The Sudanese columnist Ja'far Abbas (a satirical writer) has warned visitors to avoid shaking hands with "a dark-skinned man". In reference to the electronic comb which was supposed to have caused one man's penis to disappear, Abbas writes, "No doubt, this comb was a laser-controlled surgical cyborg that penetrates the skull, [passes] to the lower body and emasculates a man!!"
The phrase "Penis-melting Zionist cyborg combs" has been coined to describe this humorous story. It was originally incorrectly attributed to Wall Street Journal's James Taranto writing in his "Best of the Web Today". However, the article in question has no such phrase, nor anything similar beyond the aforementioned quote.