Symptoms And Symptoms Of A Fever Of Salem, By Laurie Winn Carlson

966 WordsApr 7, 20164 Pages
afflicted were experiencing these symptoms due to bewitchment, but there may be other explanations. For instance, Laurie Winn Carlson wrote a book, A fever in Salem, and argued that the girls may be haven suffering from Encephalitis Lethargica. This is an inflammation of the brain spread by insects and birds. The symptoms of this illness include behavior changes, tremors, neck rigidity and abnormal eye movements. Carlson goes on to say that a doctor had been called in to see the girls and was unable to find a physical cause of their symptoms, and so he concluded that they suffered from possession by witchcraft. This was a common diagnosis of undefined conditions at the time (Saxon). A second explanation for their symptoms could be the fungi, ergot, which affected the grains in the town of Salem. Science Magazine published a study in 1976 that concluded that ergot may have been to blame for the victim’s behavior. Ergot is commonly found in rye and wheat and may cause symptoms such as delusions, vomiting, and muscle spasms (History). Rye was the most common grain found in Massachusetts in 1962, the combination of damp climate as well as the long storage period could have caused the fungus to grow on the grains which the afflicted would eat (Saxon) . The symptoms could also have been brought on by mental stress, as the citizens of Salem were undergoing so many things in such a short amount of time. Historian Chadwick Hansen claims that the symptoms of hysteria are incredibly

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