salem witch trial Essay

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salem witch trial This is about witchcraft and is started like this: In the winter of 1691-92, several people in Salem Village, most of them young women, but eventually including a few men and boys, began behaving in a "strange & unusual manner”, with an affect which was interpreted as illness. The town's minister, Samuel Parris, whose daughter and niece were among those with this odd affect, sought to cure the perceived problem with prayer; others, including a doctor of physic who was called in, felt that the people in question were afflicted with a witch's supernatural curse, and this diagnosis came to be accepted as true. Friends and relatives prompted the "afflicted" people to name their supposed tormentors. On 29 February 1691/92, …show more content…

In 1969, Hansen agreed with Starkey that the afflicted had been hysterical, presenting his view with the scholarship and language of the academy.

Starkey's "hysterical bobbysoxers" diagnosis has entered the popular canon and school textbooks, while Hansen's verdict of "hysterical in the scientific sense of that term” has been accepted as true by the majority of scholars, Demos, McMillen, and even Karlsen, who treat the cause of affliction as settled and go on to other projects. While I see the cause as not settled, I will look instead at the way the same descriptions of affect have produced such mutually exclusive interpretations -- fraud and illness -- and suggest why fraud went entirely out of fashion, after being accepted for over a century, while hysteria came into fashion oddly, only Upham allows a mixture of fraud and illness. I will suggest that these shifts in interpretation are not founded on any new knowledge or new theories of psychology, but grow out of changes in cultural and ideological attitudes, especially toward women, and that they are made possible by the ambiguities of historical documents, by inadequate analyses of the explanations that were available in 1692, and occasionally by poor reasoning on the part of the historians.

According to Calef, afflictions at Salem first appeared as crawling under furniture, using

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