Hysteria Definition - Exaggerated or
uncontrollable emotion or excitement,
esp. among a group of people.
Write down what you think can happen
when hysteria gets out of control.
Share your ideas with the person beside
Share your ideas with people near you
and your partner
History is filled with forms of Hysteria. We have
done a great job in demonizing groups, people,
cultures, and ideas because we fear the unknown or
we fear something that is truly different.
Reflect on
Vancouver Riots after Vancouver Canucks lost Stanely
Cup (2011)
Opra Winfrey – beef hysteria
The way blacks were treated in North America (from
as far back as 1700s to the present)
Jewish people in Germany from 1930s – 1945
Canadian Aboriginal treatment from 1700s to present
Witches in 1600s
Women who were deemed to be witches were
hunted down and prosecuted.
Most women prosecuted were innocent of any
crime. They were social “misfits” who were not
married or “wise women” who were
knowledgeable about medicinal plants and
treatments for illness.
These women were wise, smart and intelligent
women. They were able to cure people who
were sick, they were able to understand science
on a level that most were incapable of.
Because they could do what many others didn’t
understand, they were stigmatized with being a
Matthew Hopkins
A bloodthirsty man was
responsible for the deaths
of more than 300 women according to an old legend.
Nearly 350 years ago selfstyled ‘Witchfinder
General’ Matthew Hopkins
roamed the counties of
eastern England preying on
Matthew Hopkins
His reign of terror began in
1644 when he was employed
by towns to seek out and
destroy women believed to
be witches.
Such has been the interest
in Matthew Hopkins crimes
that in 1968 Vincent Price
starred in a horror film
called The Witchfinder
Matthew Hopkins
Hopkins was commissioned by
Parliament to seek out and
sentence those he thought
guilty of witchcraft and
rewarded a handsome sum of
20 shillings per witch.
Hopkins elevated his killings
to an art form by examining
his victims to obtain
‘proof’ that someone was
actually a ‘witch’.
Matthew Hopkins
His means of extracting a
confession included torture which
shed no blood. One of his
methods was sleep deprivation.
Matthew Hopkins
He was convinced witches
had what he termed
‘familiars’ who were sent
to do hellish work. These
‘familiars’ often took the
form of everyday creatures
and were said to suckle on
the blood of the witch by
way of an extra nipple
hidden on their body.
Matthew Hopkins
Hopkins and his assistants, John
Stearne and Mary Philips, would
strip a suspect and dress her in
a loose shirt. She would be
forced to sit on a stool in the
middle of a room – sometimes for
days and nights.
Matthew Hopkins
At all times the suspect was
watched to see if the familiar
crawled out to feed on the witch.
To make sure she did not fall
asleep the witch was periodically
walked in the outdoors without
Matthew Hopkins
This sleep deprivation and walking
often lasted many days and nights
until the suspect’s feet were bloody
and sore and their mind was losing
After a few days and night of sleep
deprivation, torture and humiliation,
a large number of women confessed
that they were witches.
These confessions were not true at
At this point death was more
desirable than what Hopkins was
doing to them.
Matthew Hopkins
If Hopkins could not get a
confessions he would then
strip his suspects naked and
tied them up – right thumb
to left big toe and vice
He then threw them into a
stream. If they drowned
they were declared innocent
– if they stayed afloat they
would be found guilty and
sentenced to death.
Matthew Hopkins
Confessing or being found
guilty of witchcraft usually
resulted in a death sentence.
Punishments were severe and
horrific as the women were:
dunked into water until they
drowned, others were hung,
some were burned at the stake
while others were pressed to
death (pressed between two
doors loaded with weights).
Matthew Hopkins
In 1647 Hopkins was forced to
take one of his own tests. He
was bound and thrown into a
river, floated and was
sentenced to death.
Was Matthew Hopkins right for
what he did?