Publication information
view printer-friendly version
Source: Texas Medical Journal
Source type: journal
Document type: article
Document title: “Social Hysteria”
Author(s): Lydston, G. Frank
Date of publication: May 1908
Volume number: 23
Issue number: 11
Pagination: 437-43 (excerpt below includes only pages 438-39 and 440-41)

Lydston, G. Frank. “Social Hysteria.” Texas Medical Journal May 1908 v23n11: pp. 437-43.
assassins (mental health); anarchists; anarchism (dealing with); anarchism (international response).
Named persons
Lazarus Averbuch; John Wilkes Booth; Carlos I (Portugal); Charlotte Corday; Leon Czolgosz [misspelled below]; Georges-Jacques Danton; Edward VII; James A. Garfield; Emma Goldman; Charles J. Guiteau; Joan of Arc [variant spelling below]; Peter Kropotkin [misspelled below]; Abraham Lincoln; Jean-Paul Marat; William McKinley; Johann Most; Maximilien François de Robespierre; Selig Silverstein.
The excerpt below comprises two nonconsecutive portions of the article (pp. 438-39 and pp. 440-41). Omission of text within the excerpt is denoted with a bracketed indicator (e.g., [omit]).

“For Texas Medical Journal” (p. 437).

“By G. Frank Lydston, M. D., Professor of Genito-Urinary Surgery, State University of Illinois; Professor of Criminal Anthropology, Chicago Kent College of Law” (p. 437).


Social Hysteria [excerpt]

     No well-balanced individual ever believed that by a single murderous act of his own or by self-immolation he could right the wrongs of his race or social plane. The “martyrs” of history were much alike in their psychology, and many of them were in nowise different from the vulgar assassins of both ancient and modern times. Fanaticism underlay the acts of practically all of them.
     Jeanne D’Arc and Charlotte Corday, Marat, Danton, Robespierre, John Wilkes Booth, Guiteau, Czolgoz, the assassins of King Carlos, [438][439] Averbuch and Silverstein were of the same psychic kidney. Their psychology multiplied in the form of a crowd has always stood, and will always stand, for revolution and social “reform”—primarily for social unrest and disorder. From social unrest to social hysteria is but a step.


     Christian Science, Dowieism, Socialism, anarchy in all forms and many other more or less tolerated cults are rooted in the depths of the same psychic conditions. Full-bellied Krapotkin preaches anarchy by evolution, Herr Most and Emma Goldman are the apostles of anarchy by revolution, fire and blood. Both types are conscientious enough, each according to his lights. There is an inherent difference of brain structure behind the difference in method. Perhaps the difference in method is largely a matter of immediate brain nutrition.
     The psychology of the well-fed, well-clothed and well-housed anarchist may well be philosophic. He can afford to wait. He has no hungry belly to sound the charge on society. Not so your Averbuchs and Czolgozes. They are flat-bellied, lean and hungry [440][441] kine and prone to break into the other fellow’s clover patch as best they may and at whatever cost of fire and blood.
     As I have already stated, in effect, there is a question in my own mind as to whether a policy of repression of gab-fest social protest is wise. England is the haven of refuge for the world’s anarchists. She holds them responsible for their acts, not for their words, and today enjoys an immunity from anarchistic outrage such as few other countries enjoy.
     What ruler is so safe as is King Edward? Ours? Let the shades of Lincoln, Garfield and McKinley answer.



top of page