Explanations and precursors
In February 1964, Paul Johnson wrote in The New Statesman—in an article that the magazine now describes as its "most complained-about piece"—that the mania was a modern incarnation of female hysteria and that the wild fans at the Beatles' concerts were "the least fortunate of their generation, the dull, the idle, the failures." A 1966 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology rejected this assertion. The researchers found that Beatles fans were not likelier to score higher on Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory's hysteria scale, nor were they unusually neurotic. Instead, they described Beatlemania as "the passing reaction of predominantly young adolescent females to group pressures of such a kind that meet their special emotional needs."
Beginning in 1841, fans of Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt showed a level of fanaticism similar to that of the Beatles. Poet Heinrich Heine coined the word "Lisztomania" to describe this. At the time, the word was used to indicate that the fan behaviour was a genuine mental illness—an implication that was not part of the later Beatlemania. Like the later Beatlemania, there was no agreement on why Liszt had such a fanatical fan base.
One factor in the intensity of Beatlemania may have been the Post–World War II baby boom, which gave the Beatles a larger audience of young fans than Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley ever had a decade earlier. Some commentators have argued that the Beatles' famous moptop haircuts signaled androgyny and thus presented a less threatening version of male sexuality to teenage girls, while their presentable suits meant they seemed less "sleazy" than Elvis to middle-class whites.