Ep. 19: Mass Hysteria

Laughter and screaming, hallucinations and fainting… what happens when a whole community goes mad?  Find out in this fearful episode when Jack and J. J. examine the phenomenon of mass panics.  From externally induced maladies to mass psychogenic illnesses, the stimulus for hysteria can run the gamut from Monkey-Men to Strawberries with Sugar.  In the end, find out why mass hysteria isn’t just a teenage girl problem.

Here is a Topic Map that organizes many of the incidents covered in this episode.  We hope you find it helpful.

Mass Hysteria - PNG


General Information:

Physical Maladies Inspiring Mass Hysteria:

Psychomotor and Psychosomatic MPI:


Perceptual MPI:

Sexism! and Papers:

 Additional Resources:

  • Breath by Donna Jo Napoli.  YA Fiction that includes choreomania, cystic fibrosis, ergot poisoning, and the Pied Piper legend.
  • Contagious Laughter by Radiolab.

Music used in this podcast:


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One thought on “Ep. 19: Mass Hysteria

  1. You weren’t too far off! Hanford (on the eastern side of washington state) has a mostly decommissioned nuclear production complex. Apparently it was built in the 40s and people can take tours to see the B reactor there. There was (and still is) a problem with waste from the site leaking into the water though since it sits on the columbia river.


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