Hysteria is roughly defined as a disorder that expresses a disorder in psychic and motor reactions and a state of exuberance in emotional reactions. The symptoms of this psychological disorder appear in behavior. People suffering from hysteria can exhibit really interesting behaviors. Hysteria can occur in situations of extreme imagination, stress and fear. In cases where fear and stress are felt massively, mass hysteria crises occur! On the other hand, these interesting hysteria crises are sometimes seen in a certain country or community, and sometimes they can spread to a whole geography!
Of course, we know much more about psychology today than we did in the past. But think of people who suddenly started dancing in the Middle Ages and couldn’t stop themselves! Or hundreds of people who claim to have been attacked by imaginary creatures! Here, behind these interesting phenomena, lies mass hysteria! Also, these are quite mysterious events, indeed, considering distant times in history. Here are 7 interesting and mysterious mass hysteria crises that have emerged throughout history and caused extremely interesting events…
In 1518, a woman named Frau Troffea started a very interesting event in Starsbourg, France. Frau Troffea is suddenly dancing in the streets of Starsbourg! What is more interesting is that hundreds of people started to accompany Frau Troffea’s dance for no reason! Moreover, this interesting dance was no ordinary entertainment. Because the dancing people kept dancing until they passed out from exhaustion, and some even died! During this “dance of death”, people could not control their bodies, they continued to dance almost involuntarily. The dance of death was undoubtedly one of the most interesting mass hysterias ever seen in history.
On the other hand, different ideas have been put forward about the source of this interesting event both at that time and throughout the following years. At the time of the death dance, the church claimed that this extraordinary event was carried out by demonic forces. Scientific explanations were also made in the following years. It was claimed that the dance of death was caused by the ergot fungus, which occurs in various grains and causes delusions and some psychological disorders. Others suggested that this interesting event was due to the stress caused by famine and diseases at that time. However, the real reason for this intriguing mass hysteria was never revealed. On the other hand, similar dance epidemics continued to be seen in different geographies of Europe at different times.
2. Salem Witch Trials
Mass hysteria arose between 1692 and 1693, this time in the United States! In January 1692, 9-year-old Elizabeth Parris and her 11-year-old cousin Abigail Williams contracted a disease! However, the people of Massachusetts had never encountered such a disease before! Because the girls were making very strange movements, making very strange noises! Similar symptoms soon appeared in other people! According to the people of Massachusetts, only “witches” could cause this strange disease. Thus, the witch hunt began in Massachusetts! Many witches were caught in a short time. Some even confessed to being witches and shared the names of other witches with angry citizens! Thus, some animals were tried and executed in the Salem Witch Trials as well as 29 people! Of course, the Salem Witch Trials were the result of both false beliefs and struggles for social status and hatred of the “other”! On the other hand, after centuries, the victims of this terrible mass hysteria were officially apologized.
3. 1892 tremor epidemic
In 1892, one of the female students studying at Groß Tinz, Germany, started having a tremor that spread first to her hands and then to her entire body as she was typing! The tremor soon spread among the other students at the school and was seen in 19 people. Some students even lost their memory after tremors. A similar event was seen in Basel, Switzerland in 1893! Beneath this mass hysteria was a very familiar concept: stress! According to experts, a new writing technique that was being implemented in schools in Europe at that time was putting great pressure on students. Because this compelling technique was quite exhausting both psychologically and physically! The stress caused by this new writing technique became a mass hysteria among the students.
4. The Mad Gasser of Mattoon
This mass hysteria that broke out in the United States in 1944 has a perfectly justified reason! The residents of the town of Mattoon, Illinois, USA, were later haunted by the person or persons called The Mad Gasser! These person or persons were attacking the townspeople with deadly gas! In fact, a woman named Aline Kearney was paralyzed as a result of these gas attacks! After this incident was reported in the local press, almost everyone in the town began to claim to be the victim of the dangerous assailant. However, it was not possible for everyone in the town to be gassed. Indeed, most of the reports of attacks turned out to be unfounded. However, local panic and World War II. Combined with the anxiety created by World War II, mass hysteria unfolded in the town of Mattoon…
5. June bug epidemic
In 1962, interesting symptoms began to appear in 60 workers at a textile factory in the United States. Skin rash, nausea and lethargy! This event, in which the media showed great interest, was called the “June bug epidemic”. Accordingly, the June bugs in the factory were causing the workers to get sick. However, no traces of June beetles were found during the examinations made at the factory. Almost all of the workers who showed symptoms worked the same shift. Many were working overtime and not getting enough rest. Most interestingly, more than half of the workers reported that they had symptoms after seeing the news in the press! The June bug epidemic was nothing more than a hysteria believed to be caused by an external factor that did not actually exist…
6. An epidemic of laughter
One of the most interesting mass hysteria crises in history occurred in Tanzania. The laughing epidemic, which started in 1962 in a boarding school where female students were educated, spread from classrooms to corridors, from corridors to the whole school! Students couldn’t concentrate on their lessons because of laughing! In fact, many of them had various health problems due to constant laughing. Thereupon, the school where the epidemic started was temporarily closed and the students were sent home. However, the return of the students who were caught in the laughing epidemic caused the epidemic to grow! The laughing epidemic, which was especially effective among young people, continued for weeks. This interesting event was officially diagnosed with mass hysteria.
7. Monkey men in India
In 2001, New Delhi, the capital of India, was having one of its hottest summers. Moreover, the power cuts in the city made it almost impossible to fight the heat! Well, who would have thought that these blackouts would cause a mass crisis of hysteria? People trying to sleep under the sweltering heat preferred to sleep on the roofs of their houses. However, after a while, these people began to encounter bite marks on their bodies that they had never seen before! Then a belief spread that these traces belonged to half-ape half-human “ape-men” attacking people on the rooftops! In fact, several people were killed by falling from the roof while trying to resist the attack of the ape-men! Media coverage of ape-men caused the myth of ape-man to spread and the number of attacks increased! But of course, the existence of ape-men was never proven! Perhaps for the first time in history, the sweltering heat caused mass hysteria…