What is Mass Hysteria?

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Throughout history mass hysteria has made an appearance across many cultures and in many forms. Also known as collective hysteria; group hysteria, collective obsessional behaviour and even in some cases, mass psychosomatic reaction. What is mass hysteria you ask? The short answer; a bunch of people go crazy. Sometimes they feel ill, sometimes they are merely up in arms over something or other. One thing that these mass hysteria cases have in common is that people do tend to lose their everyday sensibilities.What is Hysteria 
Motor Hysteria
Motor hysteria is usually sighted by nervous twitching and spasms, with trans like states and even histrionic outbursts.
One documented mass hysteria case is that of an entire school collapsing into fits of laughter, which lasted somewhere between 6 and 18 months. In another case the better half of a village became trapped in a cycle of non-stop dance for days on end. 
Anxiety Hysteria
In other cases the symptoms are somewhat less pleasant. Anxiety hysteria usually only lasts a day or so. It is generally accompanied by nausea, light-headedness, headaches and dizziness.  
In one of the more notorious of mass hysteria cases, a teacher caught a whiff of gas in her classroom, this ended in droves of children leaving school complaining of headaches and nausea. Ultimately no gas leak was found, but that doesn’t mean that the symptoms weren’t real. Adding insult to injury, the doctors only answer: it’s all in your head.
In days gone by these sociopsychological phenomena were blamed on a supernatural cause. 
Moral Panic
Without doubt moral panic is one of the most common sources of mass hysteria in modern day society. The more subversive form of mass hysteria is usually expressed by outrage, moral panic is generally rooted in the fear of a loss in morals directed by a more conservative sector of society towards the more progressive sector. 
During the 60’s and 70’s there was a massive shift in morality in terms of woman’s rights and even general human rights. The civil rights movements precipitated a new set of rules for society to live by and the conservatives didn’t like it. The social liberalism was met by a moral panic by the social conservatives over concern for the ‘unraveling of morality’ within western culture as a whole. Rock and roll music, books and films were regularly banned and blamed for promiscuity and antisocial behaviour.
These days we know better, don’t we? Nope. It can easily be argued that moral panic still serves today as a tool used by the media to create awareness over certain situations. Not to say that we should ignore breaches of basic human rights, but rather we should read newspaper headlines with a pinch of salt. After all what is mass hysteria if it’s all only in your head?

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