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The Mad Gasser of Mattoon

February 9, 2020

In 1944, residents in the town of Mattoon in Illinois came under a prolonged series of attacks by a man the papers named as “The Mad Gasser” and “The Phantom Anesthetist”. Despite the witness accounts that claimed to see a man stalking around the victims houses on multiple occasions, the authorities and subsequent psychological studies chalked the whole saga up to nothing more than a case of “Mass Hysteria”, but did that diagnosis really answer every question posed by the evidence of events that ran for over two weeks, as summer faded over the small farming community, or was it just a convenient outcome for a police force with no answers to give the troubled population?


Maruna, Scott. Mad Gasser of Mattoon: Dispelling the Hysteria (2003), Swamp Gas Book Co. 

Evans, Hillary & Bartholomew, Robert E. Outbreak!: The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior (2009) Anomolist Books, TX USA

Bartholomew, Robert E. Little Green Men, Meowing Nuns and Head-Hunting Panics: A Study of Mass Psychogenic Illness and Social Delusion (2001) McFarland Publishing, USA


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Music was recorded by me © Ben Cutmore 2017

Other Outro music was Paul Whiteman & his orchestra with Mildred Bailey - All of me (1931). It's out of copyright now, but if you're interested, that was that.