Recently, I had some thoughts which led on to some interesting things:
The effects of social hysteria is something that “crept” upon me unaware. I never really thought that much about it and never viewed myself as displaying it. But I found that it did affect me. But, first, what is social hysteria? . . .
By “social hysteria”, or “mass hysteria”, I mean a condition where a person becomes controlled by social-based movements in the society to the point that their self dissolves and even disappears. In this state, they are literally controlled by the social-based movement. This phenomena is primarily caused by the natural tendency to follow society. In this way, it is a natural phenomena.
There are spectrum’s to social hysteria, and in many different ways, such as:
- It can range from hardly noticeable to completely dominating
- It can be emotionless (such as blindly following a trend) to being motivated by great emotion (such as panic)
- It can be beneficial (making a society more homogeneous) to destructive (destroying a society)
- It can support the self (offering example, security, etc.) to destroy the self (complete loss of self)
So we see that social hysteria has a good/bad quality to it.
The fact is that social hysteria is a part of society and social relations. If we live in society then it is with us, in one form or another, and in varying degree’s.
I should point out that hysteria, as I’m using it here, does not necessarily mean “out of control” or “freaking out” but more of a “loss of self which causes a loss of control of ones self in social situations”. As I said above, this can have good or bad effects. Generally, though, when I speak of “social hysteria” I am referring to the more negative aspects of it.
NOTICING SOCIAL HYSTERIA IN ME
I first started to notice its effects on me in the early 1990’s. I found that I began to feel a number of feelings that bothered me, such as:
- I seemed to be very over reactive to specific emotions, thoughts, and feelings, such as a fear
- These emotions, thoughts, and feelings controlled me
- I took beliefs and points of view that I didn’t believe in
- I acted in a way that was not “myself”
- I seemed as if I was not in control of myself
- I felt “detached” from myself somehow
- I was often stunned at my behavior and couldn’t figure out why I behaved the way I did
Overall, I’d say that I found myself feeling, in a way, “controlled” by some weird “outer force” that I couldn’t locate. It caused a great mystifying feeling in me. Looking back on it now it seems that what I was feeling was the effects of a lifetime of being exposed to a society based in social hysteria. As a result, I was feeling its effects on me.
Taking these feelings and tracking them down I traced it to two primary sources:
- The Vietnam War protests and Hippie Movement of about 1970. I was brought up in its aftermath and was greatly influenced by it. As I looked further into it I could see that this great massive social upheaval, that took place then, was controlling me to a great extent. I was affected by the social hysteria it had created. Its probably no surprise, then, that I always thought that I was somewhat hippie-like in the 1980’s and took many hippie views.
- The extensive and massive media that I was brought up with. I was brought up in a world where media was coming out of my ears! Things like TV, radio, music, magazines, books, and schooling were a big part of my life and consisted of a lot of my activities, in one way or another.
As I inquired further I noticed that all this had great effects on me:
I found that what motivated social hysteria is what I would call a particular quality of mania or excitement. It does not originate from the person but from society, external to the self. From there it influences the person and controls them. This gives the illusion that it came from the person but, in social hysteria, it originates from society.
This mania or excitement isn’t necessarily an emotion, like a fear or panic. It seems to mostly be unemotional and without a defined quality. To me, it seems to have a quality of what can be described as an “electric charge”. This tends to make me feel excitable giving it a mania quality.
As I looked at it further I can see that emotions are reflective of specific aspects of the mania or excitement but are not reflective of it as a whole. For example, the social hysteria I was primarily brought up with was rooted in the Vietnam War protests/Hippie movement, as I said above. This had a strong sense of fear in it. I’d end up calling this the Cold War Fear as I’d find that it originated from the Cold War and the threat of nuclear annihilation. This then turned into a paranoia. This was particularly strong with authority. This caused a contempt of authority in general. I do not feel that these emotions were the cause of the mania but, rather, it was the “electric charge” that was behind them. This then prompted, or created, the emotions. In this way, emotions are the after effects of the “electric charge” of social mania. That’s what it seems like to me.
This mania or excitement originated from a number of different sources:
- From the media
- From social attitudes and ways
These caused a number of reactions:
- They created an exposure to the mania
- They caused an “allowing” for the mania to take place . . . that is to say, they made the mania “OK” to do
The net result of these is that I was being controlled by the mania.
Loss of Self
As the mania infected me more and more I found that I lost a sense of self which caused a number of things:
- A sense of alienation . . . I don’t feel myself
- A sense of being controlled
- I would do things I otherwise wouldn’t do
The effects of this loss of self is really what prompted this inquiry. There was a sense that “something is wrong” an I wondered if I had some sort of a “mental problem”.
Some interesting effects of the loss of self include:
- It makes it so that they are not aware of that they lost their self. Their self is replaced by a new “social mania self”.
- It creates an illusionary sense of innocence. This is particularly evident when something goes wrong. Basically, the loss of self makes it so that a person does not feel “personally involved” and is, therefore, innocent and blameless of anything it does.
- It makes it so that it takes a person over without their awareness. There is no self to notice its effects.
- Things seem to have little impact or “empty”. This is because the self isn’t there to feel the impact of things or give things worth. As a result of this, social hysteria “comes and goes”.
- It gives in an infectious quality. Since there is no self there is no self to control it making social hysteria “run rampant”.
- It can cause mental problems. The loss of self can cause, or help create, a number of mental problems and issues.
TRYING TO REGAIN CONTROL AFTER THE LOSS OF SELF
From my observation most people don’t try to regain control of themselves after they’ve lost their self in social hysteria. Most people “let it subside on its own . . . when the hysteria subsides, they subside from the hysteria”.
As I became more aware of social hysteria I found myself being more and more cautious about it all. That is to say, after seeing its effects on me I had to admit a number of things:
- That I was paralyzed by it . . . that is to say, it has a power over me which I can’t conrol
- That it can control me
- That it comes upon me without my knowing or awareness
- That I am as susceptible to it as anyone else
This caused a general sense of caution about it.
In fact, my inquiry into social hysteria has shown that it is not something to look at lightly. In fact, I now accept social hysteria as a great power, one that should be looked at with extreme seriousness and caution. Personally, I think it has had great power and influence in society and history. I think its safe to say that much of history is the history of social hysteria, in one form or another.
Being cautious about it I found that it caused me to do things such as:
- To continually be aware of it
- To be aware of how it affects me
- Avoiding media in its many forms
- To be very cautious around media
- Developing a stronger sense of self and who I am
- Establishing a stronger sense and awareness of how I perceive things
- Watching myself and what I do and how I react to things
- Actively criticizing it and its effects
Basically, these do two things:
- Makes me aware of it
- Makes me aware of my self
In other words, to try to not be controlled by social hysteria one needs to increase awareness of social hysteria and ones self.
SOCIAL HYSTERIA AND WESTERN SOCIETY
I have suspected that social hysteria has had great impact on Western society and has caused unconscious and hidden attempts at trying to regain its effects. Some of these include:
- Feelings of being controlled – The ideas of freedom
- Maintaining a sense of self – The ideas of individualism
- Inquiry into the effects of things – Philosophy and science
If this were true then it would mean that a lot of Western society, and what it has created, stem from social hysteria and its avoidance. Personally, I think there is truth in this.
There seems to be a number of things that can predispose a person to social hysteria. These include:
- Tribalism, or a strong sense of people or collective group.
- The female character.
- Being exposed to media.
- Change, particularly when it is continuous.
- A weak character.
- A lack of watchfulness.
- Some forms of mental problems.
- A sense of some “cause”.
- An event that is imminent forcing a person to have to react to it.
- A form of systemism or controlling social system.
- Certain beliefs.
- A dull life. One of the effects of being “charged” by the mania and excitement of social hysteria is that it make things exciting, interesting, and appealing. Another aspect of this is that social hysteria has the effect of staving off boredom. In this way, people with dull lives often are prone to social hysteria.
Many of these have the quality of lowering the sense of self causing an increased tendency to social hysteria. This reveals the importance of the self . . .
ITS ALL ABOUT THE SELF
It became clear, to me, that social hysteria really revolves around the self. Some aspects of this include:
- I began to question it when it caused problems with the self
- The mania is motivated by a “charge” which means that it is not motivated by emotion
- It tends to cause problems with the self
- The absence of self predisposes one to social hysteria
It seems, to me, that there are three self’s that appear:
- The Personal Self – this is ones individual self independent of society
- The Mixed Self – the Personal Self and Mass Self combined
- The Mass Self – this is the self society creates and there is a complete loss of Personal Self
The Mass Self is the self of social hysteria. The Mixed Self predisposes a person to social hysteria.
THE “MASS SELF CULTURE”
It seems, to me, that some societies promote the development of the Mass Self. I call this the “Mass Self Culture”. As a result, it tends to promote a tendency to social hysteria. Some qualities of this culture include:
- It tends to be overpopulated
- It tends to have long history
- It tends to be systemized
- It tends to be controlling
- It tends to have pre-established expectations
- It tends to “program” the youth to a specific way of doing things
- It tends to have a lot of stress or burden placed on it
- It tends to demand people to act a specific way and do specific things
- It tends to have some image of authority over everyone
- It tends to have media of various forms
I’d say that much of modern society display these qualities as well as many larger societies, especially if they are quite old. In fact, I’d say that any larger society tends to lean toward a Mass Self Culture.
The “Mass Self Culture” tends to create very organized and stable societies that cater to the population, as a whole, but tends to fail the individual person. As a result, the person tends to have conflicts. They are also prone to various forms of social hysteria and can go into panic and fear easily.
OTHER FORMS OF SOCIAL HYSTERIA
There are a number of how social hysteria appears. Some examples include:
- Panic. This refers to getting out of control with a fear.
- Fanaticism. This is when people become overly “charged” by some ideal or thing. The eventual loss of self often causes them to go “overboard” with their zeal. As with social hysteria in general it can range from good to bad. It can “get things done”, it can start to dominate a person, and it can also get “out of control”.
- Mania’s. This is when certain things become very popular in society.
- Blind following. This refers to when people blindly follow society and social things.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen