Mass Hysteria

Topics: Salem witch trials, Salem, Massachusetts, Samuel Parris Pages: 5 (1039 words) Published: May 22, 2014
Tanner Orberg
Mr. Moore
3rd Period
Mass Hysteria
Achoo! I bet your thinking about sneezing now, but wait. When you do, that will put everyone you are around at a risk of sneezing. Why you might ask? It is quite simple, it’s because I am magic. Don’t believe me? Go ahead and sneeze. Once you do, if there is a crowd around, it is guaranteed that at least one more person will follow you up. Ok I may have lied; I am in fact not magic. This is indeed only a theory of mass hysteria. This theory is one that by dictionary definition states that it is a socially contagious frenzy of irrational behavior in a group of people as a reaction to an event. (, 2001) It has always existed but was more recently defined as mass hysteria in the 1930s. This theory of mass hysteria effects social, political, and economical aspects.

“An emotional outbreak, Stepped on by people's feet, Controlling panic, Who'll be the next one in line. A nervous disturbance, There's a sniper on the top of the roof, The masses of people, Fitting through one single door.” (, 2009) These are the lyrics to a song titled mass hysteria. The writer of this song is Michael Ness. In this song he is showing two examples of the social aspect of mass hysteria. When Michael says, “An emotional outbreak, stepped on by people’s feet.” He is saying that whenever mass hysteria breaks out people are so worried about protecting themselves that they will trample over others and also some people don’t even notice it. In today’s society many people are too caught up in the here and now of life to think anything about the future or to even open there eyes to the everyday mass hysteria that occurs. Many times we as humans commit mass hysteria on a daily basis and do not even realize it. For example, if a student is at school and some yells out the word fight a crowd draws and the student will follow the crowd to see what is going on. That is a prime example of social mass hysteria. In Michael’s lyrics he also wrote, “There's a sniper on the top of the roof, The masses of people, Fitting through one single door.” When Ness scribbled these lyrics to life, he did so as to say that many people will see that there is a sniper on a roof and out of sheer terror, they will run. Others will not see the sniper but they will only hear the fear in other’s voices as they rush to save no one but themselves. Then based only on what others say and do they will follow along to also avoid the assassin.

Mass hysteria also has a huge impact on the political society. One effect it had on the government was that it treated different races of people guilty of possible collaboration or treason based on the color of their skin. What was ironic was that many Japanese American young men were drafted into the US army, they had to pledge a vow of Allegiance to the US government, while at the same time their families were locked up in a prison camp. Japanese people were treated as less than a human by white people in the US and also as the enemy. The Japanese unit was also one of the most decorated units in WWII. Even after we treated them so terribly it took the government another 40 years before they officially apologized. Mass hysteria also occurred, especially with the media, after 9-11. The Bush administration whipped everyone into a panic. Any people with a Middle-eastern name or face was treated as a potential terrorist even though the actual terrorists on 9-11 were Saudi nationals, a country which was said to be a friend to the US. (, 2014) After the tragic event of 9/11 occurred it sent ever American citizen into panic as they all were scared it would be their very own home town attacked next. Finally; there are many different examples of economic aspects of mass hysteria. Last December a mysterious illness broke out in the Shelkovsk region of Chechnya. Symptoms of this illness included convulsions, nausea and breathing difficulties....

Cited: (2001). Retrieved 1930, from (2009). Retrieved 2013, from (2014, Febuary 27). Retrieved 2001, from
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