The Mysterious Case of Convulsing Cheerleaders

Nuns meowing like cats. School girls laughing uncontrollably. People dancing in the streets until they die from exhaustion. Cristen and Caroline dig into the fascinating history of mass hysterias, why some think it's on the rise today and how it seems to affect more girls and women.

Episode sources:

"What Witchcraft Is Facebook?" by Laura Dimon. The Atlantic. Sept. 11, 2013.

"What Is Mass Psychogenic Illness?" American Academy of Family Physicians. Dec. 15, 2000.

"What is collective hysteria?" by Jacob Silverman. HowStuffWorks.

"Conversion disorder." A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia. Reviewed Nov. 17, 2012.

"Mass Psychogenic Illness -- A Social Psychological Analysis" by M.J. Colligan, J.W. Pennebaker, L.R. Murphy. 2013. Routledge.

"Mass Hysteria in Schools -- A Worldwide History Since 1566" by Robert E. Bartholomew and Bob Rickard. 2013. McFarland

"Mass Hysteria Blamed For Illness At School." The New York Times. Jan. 13, 2000.

"Mass Hysteria in Upstate New York" by Ruth Graham. Jan. 31, 2012. Slate.

"Lizzie Proctor lives! Young women and hysteria" by Eesha Pandit. Jan. 30, 2012. Feministing.

"Falling Down" by John Waller. Sept. 18, 2008. The Guardian.

"Hysteria and the Teenage Girl" by Caitlin Flanagan. Jan. 28, 2012. New York Times.

"Mass hysteria rare, but usually seen in girls" by Associated Press. Feb. 03, 2012. Fox News.

Academic insights:

"Protean nature of mass sociogenic illness -- From possessed nuns to chemical and biological terrorism fears" by Robert E. Bartholomew and Simon Wessely. 2002. The British Journal of Psychiatry.

"The mirror neuron system may play a role in the pathogenesis of mass hysteria" by Yao-Tung Lee and Shih-Jen Tsai. September 2009. Medical Hypotheses.

"Tarantism, dancing mania and demonopathy -- the anthro-political aspects of 'mass psychogenic illness'" by Robert E. Bartholomew. May 1994. Psychological Medicine.;jsessionid=6DAD79606EB5C5A03ADFFBB1BA880AF0.journals?fromPage=online&aid=5209808