Have we really tamed the world or are there nightmares from our past hiding in some deep dark recess of society waiting to be released?
In July of 1518, a woman named Frau Troffea stepped into a narrow street in Strasbourg, France and began a fervent dancing vigil that lasted between four and six days. By the end of the week, over 30 others had joined her and, within a month, the crowd of dancing individuals had grown to 400.
Dozens in the city died from heart attacks, strokes and sheer exhaustion due to nonstop dancing. Witnesses reported that they were entranced, their arms and legs were moving as if they were purposefully dancing. The victims suffered from repeated waves of the dancing attacks.
They formed circles hand in hand, and appearing to have lost all control over their senses, continued dancing, regardless of the bystanders, for hours together, in wild delirium, until at length they fell to the ground in a state of exhaustion. They then complained of extreme oppression, and groaned as if in the agonies of death….
The “disease” also spread to Liege, Utrecht, Tongres and other towns in the Netherlands and Belgium, up and down the Rhine river.
The church held that the dancers had been possessed by the devil or perhaps cursed by a saint. For this reason, it was often referred to as “St. John’s Dance” or “St. Vitus’ Dance.” At times Hydrotherapy was used to try and cure the victims by having them plunged into cold water repeatedly to stop the curse.
Can you imagine a world as connected as we are right now with a mental illness that can be transmitted like a virus?