Salem Witch Trials

Essay by neysarachelleCollege, UndergraduateA+, November 2014

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Sorcery in Salem began its mass hysteria in January 1692 when Dr. William Griggs diagnosed the first girls with being "bewitched". He was the only physician in the village and since his educational background is unknown, we do not know exactly what education he has in the medical field but we assume that he had some medical training since he was the doctor in the village. Both of the young girls that was diagnosed as "bewitched" was Reverend Samuel Parris's own daughter and niece. (Lawson, 2007) According to psychologist Linnda Caporeal, in 1976, she believed that the girls that were considered to be "bewitched" because of the symptoms that they displayed could have very well been symptoms of a disease known as convulsive ergotism. (Lawson, 2007)

Convulsive ergotism is a disease caused by eating rye that has been contaminated by ergot. This is also known as ergot poisoning because ergot is many drugs such as mythylergometrine and ergotamine.

When given in high dosages, it can cause the person to get very sick. The symptoms include seizures, diarrhea, paresthesias, and mental effects. This could have been misconstrued as being "bewitched" because the doctor of the village had never seen seizures and psychotic break so he assumed that they were the work of evil and diagnosed them as such.

During the Salem Witch Trials, there were more than 200 trials that took place. (Video, 2012) Out of the many trials that took place, 20 people were tried and found guilty and executed. However, 4 others who awaited trial died while waiting in jail. People who were on trial for being a witch was not allowed to have a lawyer represent them and were forced to represent themselves. Spectral evidence was allowed when determining if people were considered "bewitched". (Video, 2012)...