Robert E. Bartholomew

The Sociologist ✧ Specialising in Mass Hysteria & Social Panics








PhD (Medical Sociology)

Honorary Senior Lecturer
Department of Psychological Medicine
University of Auckland
Auckland, New Zealand

Research Fellow
Center for Inquiry, Amherst, New York




Research Interests

Cultural relativism;  Ethnographic diversity and human tolerance; Southeast Asian ‘psychiatric’ disorders (amok, latah, koro, spirit possession);  History of psychiatry;  Mass psychogenic illness and conversion disorder;  History of Māori racial discrimination in New Zealand;  Post-partum psychosis; Gender studies;  Deception by anthropological informants;  Collective behaviour (rumour, gossip, fads, crazes, manias, moral panics, stampedes, urban legends, community threat panics, riots, ‘cults,’ social movements, folie a deux); History of witchcraft; False Memory Syndrome;  Social delusions;  Media hoaxes and the history of tabloid journalism;  Critical thinking;  Psychology of ghosts and hauntings;  Contested medical conditions and claims (Gulf War Syndrome, Multiple Personality Disorder, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Sick Building Syndrome, Repetition Strain Injury, Facilitated Communication, Morgellons Disease); Mass media influence on society;  Fantasy-prone personality;  Human perceptual fallibility; Conformity dynamics;  Pseudoscience;  Cryptozoology (community ‘monster’ panics)   Social history of Unidentified Flying Objects in the United States; Social history of the Loch Ness and Lake Champlain ‘Monsters’;  Islam in Malaysia;  Medicalization of deviance (the inappropriate placement of medical labels onto unfamiliar or unpopular non-western behaviours);  Psychological impact of chemical and biological terrorism scares;  New England folklore; Malaysian folklore and supernatural beliefs (Jinn, toyol, hantu, Bunian); History of minority religious movements; and Human rights and social justice among Indigenous peoples.