1st Edition

Hysteria Crime, Media, and Politics

By Marc Schuilenburg Copyright 2021
    170 Pages
    by Routledge

    170 Pages
    by Routledge

    According to the medical world, hysteria is a thing of the past, an outdated diagnosis that has disappeared for good. This book argues that hysteria is in fact alive and well.

    Hyperventilating, we rush from one incident into the next – there is hardly time for a breather. From the worldwide run on toilet paper to cope with coronavirus fears to the overheated discussions about immigration and overwrought reactions to the levels of crime and disorder around us, we live in a culture of hysteria. While hysteria is typically discussed in emotional terms – as an obstacle to be overcome – it nevertheless has very real consequences in everyday life. Irritating though this may be, hysteria needs to be taken seriously, for what it tells us about our society and way of life. That is why Marc Schuilenburg examines what hysteria is and why it is fuelled by a culture that not only abuses, but also encourages and rewards it.

    Written in a clear and direct style, this book will appeal to students and scholars of sociology, criminology, philosophy and all those interested in hysteria and how it permeates late modern society.

    Foreword by Jeff Ferrell  1.Hysteria is Dead, Long Live Hysteria  2.The Fathers of Hysteria  3.Hobbes' War  4.Would the Real Human Being Please Stand Up?  5.From Minority Report to Reporting Minorities  6.So You Think You Can Participate?  7.Race Riots in Rotterdam  8.The Success Paradox


    Marc Schuilenburg is Professor at the Faculty of Criminal Law and Criminology at VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He is the author of the critically and publicly acclaimed book The Securitization of Society. 

    ‘Schuilenburg's sociological analysis of hysteria gives us a powerful insight into the rise of reactionary right wing politics rooted in fear, anger, and frustration sweeping the US and much of the rest of the world. Their sense of powerlessness in the face of changing landscapes of power has been a major factor in the rise of punitive and authoritarian policing, mass incarceration, and the scapegoating of immigrants. But he also raises the possibility of a positive hysteria targeting economic inequality, climate change, and a cyclical politics of racism and xenophobia.’

    Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing

    ‘In a work that crosses from the history of medicine to the rise of anti-immigrant violence in Europe, Schuilenburg follows "hysteria" from the official catalogue of mental illnesses to a kind of cultural experience on a collective level. An astoundingly imaginative and keenly observed work of scholarship.’

    Jonathan Simon, author of Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America

    ‘Though fallen from fashion within psychology, in this important new volume Marc Schuilenburg makes a powerful case for the continued sociological relevance of hysteria to an understanding of our contemporary condition. Far from having disappeared it is everywhere and he details its manifestations in matters as widespread as the heated nature of our politics, our greedy and sometimes violent consumerism, through to what passes for interaction and debate in social media. In Schuilenburg’s hands hysteria becomes an important tool in the sociological diagnosis of our current ills and our future possibilities.’

    Tim Newburn, author of Criminology

    ‘Marc Schuilenburg offers a calm, critical and deeply considered analysis of hysteria and its sometimes hysterical history.’

    Jeff Ferrell, author of Drift: Illicit Mobility and Uncertain Knowledge

    ‘An eye opener, for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.’

    Paul Verhaeghe, author of What About Me? The Struggle for Identity in a Market-Based Society

    ‘Suffused with fear, uncertainty and panic, the state of world is no laughing matter. In his new book, Marc Schuilenburg resuscitates a term once disregarded as imprecise and hyperbolic, giving us a language to understand and describe our frantic present, proving himself again to be one of the most creative, indeed prescient critics of crime, media and politics writing today.’

    Travis Linnemann, author of Media and Crime in the U.S.