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Mass Hysteria Can Strike Anywhere, Anytime

While still in my psychiatry residency training program, I was watching the news, and a story caught my attention - a bunch of grade school kids had been hospitalized because of a mystery illness. Read More

Research into mass hysteria

Research into mass hysteria outbreaks has implicated social modeling and its interaction with gender to produce psychogenic symptoms. In other words, seeing someone of the same gender displaying specific symptoms increased the likelihood of developing similar symptoms.

Mass hysteria can manifest itself in bizarre ways, and not just in terms of mystery illness.

Mass hysteria research

Thank you for your comments on the interesting patterns of this epidemics. Our previous research confirmed the importance of social networks contributing to these patterns, as well as early psychological childhood loss of a parent or from divorce increasing risk for symptoms in mass hysteria. The mass media also has a role in spreading symptoms in some situations.

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Gary Small is a professor of psychiatry at UCLA. He directs the Memory and Aging Research Center and the UCLA Center on Aging.


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