I news clip caught my eye yesterday about incidents of hysterical dancing that broke out in Germany in the 1300’s. Men and women started to dance, and were unable to stop. Others joined them. The dancers rarely stopped to eat or sleep for days and sometimes weeks. They did not appear happy to be dancing, but they didn’t stop. Outbreaks of this dancing continued through out the Middle Ages. It was sometimes called St. John’s Dance, and, later, St. Vitus Dance and the Tarantella. There are theories that it was caused by ergot poisoning, but that is still up for debate. Other theories attribute it to living in stressful times. It seemed to die out with the advent of Protestantism.
There was a modern outbreak of hysterical laughing in 1962 in a girls’ mission school in Tanganyika which eventually affected around 1000 people in the surrounding community for 18 months.
Given the stressful time we are living in, I started to wonder what sort of mass hysteria might we see occurring. I thought it would be nice to see mass recycling or picking up litter and trash. Unstoppable acts of kindness would be refreshing as well.
What mass hysteria would you like to see? Have you ever been “hysterical”?