Top 15 Cases of Mass Hysteria Throughout History

The world has been well aware of mass delirium. Over the years, people from all over the globe have witnessed the manifestation of a particular kind which was exhibited by a large number of people. Many people like to term mass hysteria as a collective delusion which can lead to a lot of damage. Something like this is no less than a natural disaster for those who are involved. The following is a list of 15 examples of mass hysteria.

1. Meowing and biting nuns

examples of mass hysteria

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One of the most popular mass hysteria examples is that of meowing and biting nuns. An incident of meowing nuns was reported in France back in the Medieval age. One of the nuns started meowing like a cat and then soon after the other nuns followed. All the nuns used to collectively meow at  a specific time which drove the inhabitants of the neighborhood absolutely crazy. Later, the army warned them and threatened to beat them with rods after which the meowing stopped. A similar incident took place in Germany where the nuns started biting each other. This incident was believed to have supernatural relations. During those times, nuns were considered to be most vulnerable to hysteria.

2. The kissing bug

Cases Of Mass Hysteria

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The kissing bug created quite a lot of nuisance back in the year 1899. A journalist known as James McElhone wrote a very sensationalized story where he mentioned that all kinds of insect bites and bruises on the lip were the cause of the kissing bug. He mentioned how many people had been poisoned and some even died due to this notorious bug. Needless to say that such an incident lead to huge paranoia. People started walking the roads with their faces covered in bandage and some claimed financial assistance to cure their disease. However, entomologists completely dismissed the idea and refused to believe the existence of the kissing bug.

3. The dancing plague

Mass Hysteria Examples

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Other mass hysteria examples are of the dancing plague which took place in 1518. Mrs Troffea of Strasbourg in France danced in the streets for days at a stretch. By the end of the week she was joined by 34 others and the number grew to 400 by the end of the month. The weird part was that none of them rested between the dancing and according to reports, a number of them died on a daily basis due to heart attack or exhaustion. Similar cases of mass hysteria were noted in different parts of the world as well.

4. The witch trial

Causes Of Mass Hysteria

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One of the major causes of mass hysteria has been sheer ignorance. In Salem, witch trials which took place back in the year 1692, 4 girls, namely Betty Paris, Abigail Williams, Elizabeth Hubbard, and Ann Putnam Jr. were executed because they were undergoing some strange fits. The clergy believed that these girls were fraternized by the devil, as a result of which all four of them were labeled as witches and were therefore executed. The mass hysteria involving witches spread far and wide throughout Europe, thus claiming a number of innocent lives.

Also Read: 13 Unusual Catholic Mysteries that are Unsolved

5.The Tanganyika laughter epidemic

Causes Of Mass Hysteria

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Tanganyika, now known as Tanzania witnessed a really strange incident of mass hysteria. Three girls who were studying in a boarding school started laughing uncontrollably, and the contagious nature of this laughter swept over 95 out of 159 students. While some of the students laughed for a few hours, others laughed for 16 days. This resulted in the school being closed and the laughing epidemic spread to the other villages as well.

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