Essay Mass Hysteria And Its Fundamental Characteristics

2402 Words Nov 12th, 2014 10 Pages
Understanding Mass Hysteria and its Fundamental Characteristics The power of mass hysteria is so dangerous that it can create both physical and psychological situations that can take lives, change global politics and cause panic in hundreds or even thousands of individuals. Mass hysteria is when emotions, especially fear in a group of people are so strong that it leads people to act in an uncontrolled way. Some examples of mass hysteria are the Salem witch trials, the fear experienced by Americans during the Cold War and the hundreds of false accusations against the McMartin preschool staff in California. There are many parallels in each of the cases of mass hysteria in this paper; all 3 cases are spread by rumors, they all have an authority figure that plays a major role in continuing the hysteria and all three cases have moral and cultural beliefs that have made people distrustful (Bartholomew). Recently, society has experienced panic and mass hysteria with the outbreak of Ebola; it is clear that today’s society is still susceptible to the dangers of mass hysteria. Basic human emotions like fear, moral panic and a desire for power and attention are all characteristics that together can create situations of mass hysteria. One of the most well known cases of mass hysteria took place in Salem, Massachusetts in January of 1692 when more than 200 people were accused of witchcraft, 20 were executed and many others died in jail. It all began with two young girls,…

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