The very first post on this blog (2/5/15) was about a book I read in the 1990’s, titled Vampires, Werewolves & Demons: Twentieth Century Reports in the Psychiatric Literature. It is a collection of case studies from the vaults of the “monstrously” insane, going back almost 200 years.
The book contains an excerpt written by French alienist, J.E.D. Esquirol in his 1845 book “Mental Maladies: A Treatise on Insanity.” Esquirol references two episodes of mass hysteria that I think are intriguing, “The Feast of Mad People” and the “Mal des Andous.”
I am extremely curious to know more about both. The Conjurers book series ultimately winds a path through 14th century Germany and, if the timing is correct, I might include an encounter with the Mal des Andous. Unfortunately, I can find very little information about what it was or the exact years of the affliction. I’m hoping one of my readers has the ability to find what I cannot.
Therefore, the first two people who are able to get me additional descriptions and/or source material on one or both of these things will receive my heartfelt gratitude and a signed copy of my novel, Conjurers.
To get you started, here are the passages from Esquirol’s Mental Maladies, as reprinted in Vampires, Werewolves & Demons.
The Feast of Mad People
“The concourse of people, assembled from every quarter, the presence of the bishop, the pomp and solemn display, the confidence which took possession of the sick, and everything that could control their imagination, contributed to the cure of some of these unfortunate beings. They proclaim it a miracle, and this persuasion prepared new cures for succeeding years. These solemnities, which in some cities in France were still celebrated so late as the middle of the last century, must not be confounded with the feast of mad-people, a strange saturnal, which took place in several chapters during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.”
The Mal des Andous
“Demonomania is sometimes epidemic. Like all nervous maladies, it propagates itself by a kind of moral contagion, and by the power of imitation. The mal des andous, which afflicted Holland, Belgium and Germany in the fourteenth century, was a kind of Demonomania.”
Good luck and game on!