The Salem Witch Trial

Topics: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, Ergotism Pages: 3 (1152 words) Published: January 16, 2011
Many assumptions have been made by historians to explain the occurrence of the Salem witchcraft trials, and on why the afflicted girls behaved the way they did, but yet there still seems to remain a sense of doubt on this issue. It seems that this case is not just because of one factor such as Ergotism, but several more. The affliction started by mind suggestion. The early beliefs and superstitions in Puritanical society that were practiced on an everyday basis supported the idea that the behaviors and physical conditions of the afflicted girls were the evil works of the witches, and the Devil. Among many Puritans, this belief becomes a fear, and then this fear becomes like an additional topping that adds up to causing convulsive hysteria and also hallucinations which were caused by Ergot Poisoning. So, here is where the role of Convulsive Hysteria and Ergotism comes in play. The ergot poisoning in Salem villagers’ every day meal of bread made with ‘rye’ leads to severe physical disorders, hallucination of witches and devils, and other serious symptoms. The symptoms of convulsive Hysteria and ergot poisoning are very much similar to the symptoms of bewitchment that the afflicted girls in Salem had had. Many of the Puritans lived in a society where hearing a powerful positioned person or a committee say something was often believed to be truth. It seems as if the Puritans lived in a world that was half filled with lies and that they were brainwashed. The witch hunt started when the controversy of the illness of the afflicted girls became a crime, since the church members who dominated the power over New England, referred this illness to be some sort of witchcraft. In The Western Heritage, the author states: “Had people not believed that certain gifted individuals could aid or harm others by magical means, and had they not been willing to make accusations, the hunts could never have occurred” (Donald 460). The Puritans were all brainwashed by the church....
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