Strange Cases of Mass Hysteria


Mass hysteria is when there is a large group of people will get extremely upset as a collective. It is often caused by some threatening delusion and it takes over. Generally, there is no real threat or if there is some kind of threat, it’s totally over exaggerated. Here you’ll find some of the strangest cases.

Meowing Nuns

During the Middle Ages in France, there was a nun who began meowing like a cat for no reason at all. Then within a few hours, all the nuns in the convent were doing the same thing. It seems that it got so out of control that the villagers had to call in soldiers. The soldiers then proceeded to tell the nuns that if this didn’t stop they would whip them with rods.

Dancing Plague of 1518

In France, a woman known as Mrs. Troffea started dancing in the streets. She danced by herself for several days and then on the 7th day over 30 more people had joined her. There were 400 more people who started doing the same thing by the end of that month. These dancers never even rested and about 15 people a day ended up dying because of stroke, exhaustion or heart attack.

Salem Witch Trials

The Salem witch hunts of 1692 are probably the most famous case of mass hysteria. It happened when four girls all claimed to have very strange fits and the local clergy just assumed that this was a sign that they had been worshipping the devil. This is what prompted the Salem witch trials. Overall, 25 innocent citizens were killed for being suspected of practicing witchcraft.

The Halifax Slasher

Two women in Halifax, England claimed that in 1938, they were assaulted by a very strange man who carried a mallet and had bright buckles on the shoes he wore. Right after that, there were more people who came forward claiming they too had been attacked by the same man, but this time he was carrying a knife. It wasn’t long before there were so many claims that Scotland Yard finally had to step in and get involved. Soon after that a lot of the so-called victims admitted that they had made it all up. Some of them were even put in prison for the made up stories.

Mad Gasser of Mattoon

In 1944, a woman living in Mattoon, Illinois claimed that she smelled hysteria 2something awful just outside her window. She said it caused her throat to start to burn and then her legs went numb. She said that she saw a shadow figure along with smelling the strange gas. This so-called mad gasser even picked up a few nicknames once the hysteria spread through the whole town when they freaked out over this attacker. He was called “Anesthetic Prowler”, “Friz”, and the “Phantom Anesthetist”. Even with the entire town claiming they were attacked by this mystery person, no evidence was ever discovered to prove he was real.

Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic

It was shown in 1962, that hysteria can also manifest itself with humor. In Tanganyika, now Tanzania, there were three girls that started laughing at their school and the laughter was so contagious that 95 out of the 159 students started non-stop laughing as well. Some of them laughed for a few hours while others laughed for 18 days. Because of this laughing hysteria, the school had to be shut down. This didn’t stop the laughter, it actually spread to the neighboring village and this laughing hysteria affected 217 people.

Blackburn Faintings

Several girls who went to a school in Blackburn, England, back in 1965, started all complaining of being dizzy and a lot of them began fainting. After just a few hours, there were 85 girls who all had to be rushed to the nearest hospital after they all had fainted. It wasn’t until a year later that they figured out what had caused it. They believe that the recent polio outbreak in the area was what cause this case of mass hysteria in Blackburn.

Strawberries With Sugar Virus

More recently, in 2006, there was a Portuguese teen soap opera that had an episode where the characters of the show were afflicted with a strange and terrible disease. After watching the episode some 300 teens started thinking they were actually suffering from this strange illness. Because of this several different schools had to close down so they could calm down the affected teens regarding this unrealistic outbreak.

In Conclusion

Even though most of us more than likely think that we’re way too smart for this to happen to us, just remember, there are a lot of times that this kind of hysteria can really cause our bodies to actually believe we are suffering from effects of a mystery illness especially if you see everyone else freaking out all over the place, it can actually make you think you should be also. A prime example of what might be considered mass hysteria is going on right now in the United States with left wing liberal democrats freaking out for the past two years over the election of Donald Trump. Mass hysteria is real, although the fears may not be, it is something that can affect many people if they allow themselves to give into unfounded fears.

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