I was studying for my abnormal psychology test and one of the terms we needed to know was “mass hysteria,” which is, of course, when a group of people experience the same symptoms due to what their mind perceives is happening. The example used in class was “tarantism,” or the fear of getting bitten by a tarantula. Apparently in Italy, it was thought that if a person was bitten by one, they would have a excess amount of energy, and their only means of surviving the venomous attack is to dance. Hence, the Tarantella was created! I thought this was extremely fascinating, so I took time to look up some other ridiculous mass-hysterical events:
June Bug Epidemic: In 1962 a mysterious disease broke out in a dressmaking warehouse due to what they though was a bug biting the employees. The symptoms included numbness, nausea, dizziness and vomiting. Sixty-two of the workers were hospitalized, yet after research by the company, there was no evidence that such a bug could produce those symptoms, nor did all of the workers demonstrate bites.
War of the Worlds Broadcast- There was a radio program by Orson Welles that was based off of the sci-fi story “War of the Worlds.” However, some people tuned into the station late and thought it was an actual news broadcast. People claimed to see blinking lights and smell poisonous gases even though it was all in their imagination.
The Tangayika Laughing Epidemic- This is the weirdest one in my opinion. Apparently someone told a joke in a school, and the joke spread. People could not stop laughing and it spread to different schools and villages. The had symptoms such as pain, fainting, and respiratory problems.
There are a lot of others that are just as bizarre but these are the few that caught my eye. People are so weird.