If the little colonial town of Salem, MA hadn't been caught up in hysteria about supposed devil possession, 20 supposed "witches" might not have been murdered at the hands of the state. Today, 324 years ago, 8 of them were hung. Here is the coverage from Boston Magazine.
The force field was primarily created by the local teenage females who allegedly experienced hysterical symptoms such as convulsions. Those were attributed to demonic dynamics put in play by the witches.
Had Signund Freud been practicing psychiatry back then, he could have testified in court that such seeming possession could have results from the ethos of sexual repression. Since the birth control pill hadn't been invented yet, he couldn't have advocated the loosening of social mores about sexual behavior. But his testimony might have had the people of Salem become more open to interpreting bizarre behavior. And 20 lives might heen spared.
Hysteria, of course, has been ramped up because of media. Some tabloids call for the imprisonment of former Congressman Anthony Weiner. They want a metaphorical pound of flesh for his self-destructive actions. In America, the land of careerisn, no one, including possible addicts, are allowed to screw up their professional lives. Do that and you become the national joke.
Judges and juries have to factor in the undertow of hysteria in legal proceedings. It can influence. It had 324 years ago.