How Psychology Can Explain the Deadly Medieval Dancing Plagues

  • Published on Dec 5, 2019
  • From the 1200s through the 1600s, parts of Europe were afflicted with deadly, mysterious outbreaks of seemingly contagious, unstoppable dancing. While it's still unclear exactly why these "dancing plagues" happened, modern psychology may be able to provide some answers.
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Comments • 246

  • masterimbecile
    masterimbecile 13 days ago

    Hey kids

  • Supreme Keem
    Supreme Keem 13 days ago

    Honestly I’m a fairly logical person but I feel like there is no scientific explanation that can definitively explain this. And I doubt we will ever know.

    • EP114587
      EP114587 12 days ago

      Science doesn't work off feelings

  • MaDeLapHnT
    MaDeLapHnT 13 days ago

    Great band name....medieval dancing plague.

  • Amber Smith
    Amber Smith 20 days ago

    Lol I still have internal conflict with the Berenstein bears thing. Because I remember pronouncing it Beren STINE bears because that’s how I thought stein was pronounced. And then all y’all say there’s an A in it which completely throws that memory for a loop. 😂

  • K L
    K L 27 days ago

    reminds me of how people break out dancing "in the spirit" and speaking "in tongues" in Pentecostal churches while the same song is sung over and over for hours and the minister uses the same loudly spoken words over and over (hypnotically) to a congregation of traumatized people who believe they may very well go to a fiery hell or be left behind to suffer after the rapture... etc.

  • Maxx Hart
    Maxx Hart Month ago


  • Artistic Endeavors
    Artistic Endeavors Month ago

    Whirling dervish's!!

  • Kirk Baumgardner
    Kirk Baumgardner Month ago

    It was probably most likely a biological contaminant spread that eventually became psychological because of the physical changes in the bright maybe something with the water source but I definitely understand social behavior so and how it can affect other people

  • Something Dreadful
    Something Dreadful Month ago

    Dancing Plague would be a cool band name.

  • xHaniffax
    xHaniffax Month ago

    Probably some environmental toxin that lead a severe form of chorea

  • Cora Dereta
    Cora Dereta Month ago

    I'm just curious if the dancers were infected with a parasite like toxoplasmosis, where it jumped from cats or mice to people and affected them in a similar way as it does mice.

  • Jared Pool
    Jared Pool Month ago

    I'd be interested to know if there were controls on music/dance in the period. We are the only social-dancing species. I'd also be curious about what drugs were available that could contribute to deaths of novices. Maybe alochol is even enough.
    Someone else mentioned a river parasite, that seems just as plausible as a social contagion. I wonder if names have been documented and any remains have been examined...seems difficult given the size of the death toll, not like finding plague victims anyways.

  • UltraHuman
    UltraHuman Month ago

    Clearly unhappy River Spirits.

  • Elijah Jarrell
    Elijah Jarrell Month ago +1

    Fun fact: LSD was created as a synthetic ergot.

  • Amarianee
    Amarianee Month ago +1

    Did I mishear, or did you say all of these plagues happened along the same river? Did it ever occur to anyone to look into the possibility of a parasite or amoeba? Whether one currently exists that could cause anything like this to happen is irrelevant as it could have become extinct (the amount of small organisms that go extinct every year is surprisingly high), but it wouldn't be the first parasite to be able to control the motor functions of its host.

    • Mark Keller
      Mark Keller Month ago +1

      Exactly! Riverbed and shoreline core samples could be revealing, as well as digging up a few graves of those infected.

  • Moe
    Moe Month ago

    The S's in this video are very painful

  • Alex J Brimmer
    Alex J Brimmer Month ago

    Oh my god. OSDD. That me!

  • Kathy McGirt
    Kathy McGirt Month ago +5

    Thinking this might be medical rather than psychological.

  • Sophie Robinson
    Sophie Robinson Month ago +1

    I remember "Berenstein". I remember asking someone "i wonder if it's pronounced stine or stain" and them saying "No idea."

  • Samuel Bomorse
    Samuel Bomorse Month ago

    It beggars belief that this is a real thing.

  • Harisah Shahirah
    Harisah Shahirah Month ago

    Is this applicable to something like massive hysteria by malaysian students few years back? One of them just enter into a trance and next thing we know, every other school have the massive hysteria too

  • Guapo Desperado
    Guapo Desperado Month ago

    I guess this video provides some insight to why so many Americans are psychotic braindead reality-denying trump supporters.

  • TheCimbrianBull
    TheCimbrianBull Month ago

    6:00 this is one hell of a lit street party with the two synchronized bagpipers and the two very surprised women being lifted by random dudes.

  • TheCimbrianBull
    TheCimbrianBull Month ago

    4:22 "...dancing in the streets..."
    They were listening to David Bowie.

  • jayknight139
    jayknight139 Month ago

    If someone started a dancing plague what they be charged with murder?

  • cphaura
    cphaura Month ago

    Some says it's what happened to the Salem's witches

  • Sarvaerus
    Sarvaerus Month ago

    5:15 Jim has depression

  • wopor333
    wopor333 Month ago


  • Ayan Booyens
    Ayan Booyens Month ago +1

    I think I’d put my money on a mind control parasite

  • Archi Teuthis
    Archi Teuthis Month ago

    Is this in any way related to the Danse Macabre of medieval art?

    GOP R TROLLS Month ago

    Lol take out the trash jim

    GOP R TROLLS Month ago

    Wtf, this is new to me

  • RmntcArtst
    RmntcArtst Month ago

    terrifying stuff

  • Alen
    Alen Month ago

    Everyday we're shufflin'

  • Ryan de Klerk
    Ryan de Klerk Month ago

    This show really dropped the ball not being called PsyShow

    • Alex J Brimmer
      Alex J Brimmer Month ago

      But they do more than psych stuff. They have other channels like SciShow Space.

  • Joshua Jarvis
    Joshua Jarvis Month ago

    Wasn't their once a belief in tarantism, the idea that a tarantula bite can cause uncontrollable dancing?

  • Joshua Jarvis
    Joshua Jarvis Month ago

    Mercury poison caused an outbreak of deadly dancing in cats, in Japan. could that be a possibility?

  • Tomas Senn
    Tomas Senn Month ago

    I'm fairly certain that the dancing plagues were an inspiration for the parade in Paprika

  • coryman125
    coryman125 Month ago

    Since you mentioned the Berenstain Bears- a video on the Mandela Effect would be interesting. I've heard lots of theories about it, and unfortunately only about 2 don't involve alternate universes, time travel, misunderstood quantum physics, or other stuff of that nature

  • Nathan Arnold
    Nathan Arnold Month ago

    Thank you for performing psychological experiments on me.

    YASH KATARE Month ago

    Can you cover trance state in detail?

  • Katie T
    Katie T Month ago +2

    I wonder, did the story of the twelve dancing princesses (and any tale with 'perpetual dancing' as a punishment for being the bad guy) come from the dancing plagues?

  • 1234kalmar
    1234kalmar Month ago


  • Illien Galene
    Illien Galene Month ago

    And that's the moment you doomed my PnP Group to stop a dancing plague in a major city.

  • Tam McD
    Tam McD Month ago

    1:14 "Rye wasn't eaten everywhere that the dancing plagues happened"? What is the evidence for this *unusual* dietary absence? After all, absence of evidence is NOT evidence of absence, bread truly was a staple in the medieval diet, and ""The expansion of intensive rye cultivation occurred in the Middle Ages. However, new finds from north-west Germany ... show that in this area rye has been cultivated as a main crop on poor soils since the Roman period."

  • Gabriel Martins
    Gabriel Martins Month ago

    Today I found out SciShow watches other channels

  • Miss Chief
    Miss Chief Month ago

    Given the outbreaks seem to happen about every 50-100 years is it really likely that people would have been so afraid of it after all that time which means at least patient zero wasn't dancing for the theorised reason. Surely if this only ever started along the Rhine river then the likely cause is the river, some parasite, virus or bacteria in the water, which once it was in a couple of humans could easily spread to others (virus probably makes the most sense). I think there was some weird virus that was in a happy symbiotic relationship, say with some river dwelling creature, or even a river plankton or perhaps even some kind of algae, and the creature/plankton/algae/whatever blooms every 50 years, resulting in the virus being expelled into the water, people drink the water and sometimes some of them get the virus, this explains why it doesn't always happen on schedule, they just got lucky, perhaps there had been a lot of rain and the river was flowing too fast for the virus to hang around long enough to be drunk, but when it does get drunk... now the virus has a new host but it is a less happy symbiotic relationship this time. Could of course have been some toxin some idiot dumped in the river upstream too. Also this explains why it doesn't happen anymore... we don't tend to drink untreated river water these days. Anyway I think if patient zero was always near the river then the river is the source of the outbreak, whatever it is ;)

  • tolon tolon
    tolon tolon Month ago

    I HAVE CAT PETTING DISSOCIATION TRANCE, cant stop petting them cyoot

  • Mar B.
    Mar B. Month ago

    i still cannot believe dancing plagues existed. it's just too crazy

  • Shaun Rambaran
    Shaun Rambaran Month ago

    I feel like she used psychology on me at the end there to get me to watch more videos. Damn you!
    *clicks another video

  • UniQuE TV
    UniQuE TV Month ago

    Im not sure if the dancers were on drugs, or the person who made up the whole story was

  • Dennis Haupt
    Dennis Haupt Month ago

    or this simply didn't happen.
    how likely is it that there are so many occurences despite a low population, but now, with 7 billion, it never happens?

  • Veryde _
    Veryde _ Month ago

    psychological reasons seem unlikely to me.

  • Cole Sultemeier
    Cole Sultemeier Month ago

    Dance. Breakin-Dance

  • RedStefan
    RedStefan Month ago

    Music festivals :)

  • Versus -
    Versus - Month ago

    Epic rave

  • Grimbeard
    Grimbeard Month ago

    The most likely explanation is that the reports aren't true, or at least are mis-reported (e.g. it wasn't really 'dancing', just involuntary movements) and/or exaggerated (e.g. the number of people involved, the length of time, and/or the consequences).

  • thomasaugustto
    thomasaugustto Month ago

    5:09 this is glorious

  • Christoph Backhaus
    Christoph Backhaus Month ago

    DTD is extremely common. Go to an anime convention and talk to the people there and you will find many who do show this. I talked to a girl that told me she keeps teleporting around having no idea how she got there but because it's normal for her she isn't concerned.

  • Terilee Bruyere
    Terilee Bruyere Month ago

    Dissociative Trance? Is that what that tiny bit of hell is called? I have white matter lesions, have been diagnosed with AiWS, and have polyneuropathy. I get those "nothing feels quite right moments" often, to the point that I end up feeling completely lost while standing in my own livingroom. My arms don't look like mine, my feet don't feel like they are actually on the floor, it's so completely terrifying for that short amount of time, but less scary to other people than the "lights are on but nobody is home" spells.