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.
- “The Epidemics of the Middle Ages” by J. F. C. Hecker. London: G. Woodfall and son. 1844.
- Mass Hysteria via Wikipedia
- “Mass Delusions and Hysterias: Highlights from the Past Millenium” by Robert E. Bartholomew and Erich Goode. Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 24.3. May/June 2000.
- “Protean Nature of Mass Sociogenic Illness” by Robert E. Bartholomew and Simon Wesseley. The British Journal of Psychiatry
Physical Maladies Inspiring Mass Hysteria:
- Kuru via Wikipedia
- “Ergot of Rye – I: Introduction and History” (Lecture notes curated by the Department of Botany at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. Limited citation information.)
- “Ergot Poisoning – the cause of the Salem Witch Trials” (May be a partial transcript of PBS television show ‘Secrets of the Dead II – Witches Curse’. Limited citation information.)
- “Heavy Metal Poisoning” by National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD). 2006.
- Sydenham’s Chorea (St. Vitus’ Dance) via Wikipedia
Psychomotor and Psychosomatic MPI:
- “The Mystery of Mass Hysteria” by Allison Takeda. www.everydayhealth.com. Last Updated 18 January 2012.
- Choreomania: Dancing Plague of 1518 via Wikipedia
- Choreomania: Tarantism via Wikipedia
- The June Bug Epidemic: Hysterial Contagion via Wikipedia
- “Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic, 1962 – 64” by santa. spectregroup.wordpress.com. 3 January 2009. (A digest of many other good sources regarding the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic).
- “Bed Bug Panic” by Brooke Borel. www.slate.com 6 May 2015.
- 1983 West Bank fainting epidemic via Wikipedia
- “Real or psychological, what ails these students?” by Aanya Wipulasena. The Sunday Times Sri Lanka. 18 November 2012.
- “Afghan school poisonings show hallmark of mass hysteria” by idoubtit. doubtfulnews.com. 1 June 2012.
- 1965: Blackburn, England. “An Epidemic of Fainting in Blackburn, England” by Andrew Kincaid. www.oddlyhistorical.com. 20 December 2014.
- 2002: North Carolina, U.S. “Episodic Neurological Dysfunction Due to Mass Hysteria” by E. Steve Roach, MD; Ricky L. Langley, MD, MPH. Archive of Neurology. 2004;61(8):1269-1272. doi:10.1001/archneur.61.8.1269.
- 2006: Portugal: Strawberries with Sugar virus: Morangos com Acucar via Wikipedia
- 2006: Portugal: Strawberries with Sugar virus: Series 3, Episode 124. Youtube. Originally posted 30 June 2015.
- 2007: Vinton, Virginia, U.S. “‘Twitching’ Illness Hits Several Students, Staff at Virginia School” by the Associated Press. 7 November 2007.
- 2012: LeRoy, New York, U.S. “What Happened to the Girls in LeRoy?” by Susan Dominus. The New York Times Magazine. 7 March 2012.
- Seattle Windshield Pitting Epidemic via Wikipedia
- “Martians Land in Quito” by Cecilia Alvear. The World Post. 16 March 2009.
- Mothman via Wikipedia
- Monkey-man of Delhi via Wikipedia
- Spring-heeled Jack via Wikipedia
- “A Mad Man in the Night: The Halifax Slasher” by Andrew Kincaid. www.oddlyhistorical.com. 26 September 2014.
- “Mad Gassers! Phantom Attackers in Virginia and Illinois” by Troy Taylor. www.prairieghosts.com. 2002.
Sexism! and Papers:
- “Hysteria and the Teenage Girl” by Caitlin Flanagan. The New York Times Sunday Review – Opinion. 28 January 2012.
- “An Epidemic of Respiratory Complaints Exacerbated by Mass Psychogenic Illness in a Military Recruit Population” by Jeffery P. Struewing and Gregory C. Gray. American Journal of Epidemiology Vol. 132, Issue 6. Pp. 1120-1129. 4 June 1990.
- “Who Cries Wolf? The Reporters of Damage to Police in a Pseudo-Disaster” by Nahum Z. Medalia. Social Problems Vol. 7, No. 3 (Winter, 1959-1960), pp. 233-240.
- “Mystery Gas: An Analysis of Mass Hysteria” by Sidney M. Stahl and Morty Lebedun. Journal of Health and Social Behavior Vol. 15, No. 1 (Mar., 1974), pp. 44-50.
- “Psychopathology in the Social Process: I. A Study of the Persecution of Witches in Europe as a Contribution to the Understanding of Mass Delusions and Psychic Epidemics” by George Rosen. Journal of Health and Human Behavior Vol. 1, No. 3 (Autumn, 1960), pp. 200-211.
- “A Critical Examination of the Social Contagion Image of Collective Behavior: The Case of the Enfield Monster” by David L. Miller, Kenneth J. Mietus and Richard A. Mathers The Sociological Quarterly
Vol. 19, No. 1 (Winter, 1978), pp. 129-140.
- 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: