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Mass hysteria is when a bunch of people go crazy at once. One way mass hysteria can develop is if a whole lot of irrational people get together at some religious event, then they all get worked up and emotional together.

Nuns forced to live repressed and frustrated lives could be at risk of developing mass hysteria, below is an example:-

A nun in a German nunnery fell to biting all her companions. In the course of a short time all the nuns of this convent began biting each other. The news of this infection among the nuns soon spread, and it now passed from convent to convent throughout a great part of Germany, principally Saxony and Brandenburg. It afterwards visited the nunneries of Holland, and at last the nuns had the biting mania even as far as Rome. (Zimmermann cited in Hecker 1844, 127) [1]
[1] There must have been a great many unhappy, frustrated nuns in the convents of Germany, Holland and Italy.

Other nuns developed delusions that they were possessed by demons and forced to act in lewd ways. The real reason for the lewdness was sexual frustration due to imposed celibacy.

Suggestibiblty can have terrible effects especially among credulous people who are already unhappy and frustrated. [2]

References

  1. Mass Delusions and Hysterias: Highlights from the Past Millennium
  2. Looking Back: Dancing plagues and mass hysteria

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