Mass hysteria: An epidemic of the mind?

An outbreak of fatal dancing fits among members of the same community, men suddenly gripped by the sickening fear of losing their genital organs, and teenagers having mysterious symptoms after watching an episode of their favorite TV series — these are all instances of what we often refer to as “mass hysteria.”

“They danced together, ceaselessly, for hours or days, and in wild delirium, the dancers collapsed and fell to the ground exhausted, groaning and sighing as if in the agonies of death. When recuperated, they […] resumed their convulsive movements.”

This is a description of the epidemic of “dancing plague” or “dancing mania” as given by Benjamin Lee Gordon in Medieval and Renaissance Medicine.

Full story at Medical News Today

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Will Savage

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