• Arnold Schroder

#17: Group mind pt. 1: Dancing epidemics

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

(11/18/2020) We begin a series on evolved psychological mechanisms for group participation, evaluating the wild variation in behavior and belief that groups exhibit. We'll start with dancing epidemics, divine madness, possession states, culture bound syndromes, and a host of other particularly idiosyncratic forms of social contagion. We'll discuss the (unnecessary) tension between 'cultural' and 'psychological' explanations in academia, and how a more useful frame is simply the ability of groups to cohere around beliefs and behaviors utterly unfamiliar to other groups.

Bibliography for episode #17:


Bartholomew, R. E. (1994) Tarantism, dancing mania, and demonopathy: the anthro-political aspects of 'mass psychogenic illness'. Psychological Medicine 24:281-306.


Bartholomew, R. E. (1997) The medicalization of the exotic: Latah as a colonialism‐bound “syndrome”, Deviant Behavior 18(1):47-75.


Levine, R. E. & Gaw, A. C. (1995) Culture-bound syndromes. Cultural Psychiatry 18(3):523-536.


Otto, W. F. (1965) Dionysus: Myth and Cult. Indiana University Press.


Waller, J. (2009) A forgotten plague: Making sense of dancing mania. The Lancet 373:624-625.


Waller, J. (2009) Dancing plagues and mass hysteria. The Psychologist 22:644:647.


Yamada, A. M. & Marsella, A. J. (2013) The study of culture and psychopathology. In: Paniagua, F. A. & Yamada, A. M. Handbook of Multicultural Mental Health: Assessment and Treatment of Diverse Populations. Academic Press.




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