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Psychology of Mass Hysteria: New England in the 1690's
Transcript of Psychology of Mass Hysteria: New England in the 1690's
Fears and Anxieties of the Puritans
One of the main fears of the Puritans was an attack from the Native Americans living in the area.
They feared disease, famine, and insurrection
Feared the unknown
Puritan elders feared that their people were moving away from the church.
They feared Satan, and other spirits.
But mostly, they feared God.
The main theory historians believe is that the witch hunting started because the elders were afraid of any woman who seemed out of the ordinary, which could potentially lead to a religious revolt.
Another popular belief is that the Puritan priests had their congregations fear the "witches" to drive people back to the church, and keep anyone thinking about straying or revolting at bay.
The Puritans especially feared Satan.
They were taught to believe the Devil was everywhere, trying to destroy them.
They became extremely paranoid and superstitious
Puritans believed that by killing all the witches would keep Satan away. They believed witches sold their souls to the Devil and that the he could possess them.
Scared of imps
They were thought to be Satan's gift to witches.
They acted as their servants.
They accused any woman who was out of the ordinary or not following the strict Puritan rules as a witch.
Men seemed to fear any woman with land, no husband, any type of power, etc. They were scared of the independent woman over throwing them.
Some believe their fears started because of the continuous pressure of unexpected Native American attacks.
They were extremely scared of the Indians because they thought they were Devil worshipers.
Some Puritans who were captured by Indians escaped and came home to tell about the horrible satanic things they do.
The Puritans feared the unknown, Anything that couldn't be explained in the bible they feared. To them, it was easier to blame the stuff they couldn't explain on Satan.
It was divided into three social classes: Upper, Middle, and Lower
These classes were, of course, based on wealth and possessions
The Social Hierarchies of 1690s New England
The Puritans' life was very religious, so the upper class was made up mostly of priests or clergymen.
This groups was made up of shop, business and land owners as well as farmers. It was also the largest group.
The lower class was made up of slaves and indentured servants; at this time there weren't as many slaves in New England.
Methods used to Determine Witchcraft
The accused forced to urinate into a cake. As dogs ate it, the supposed 'witches' would cry out in pain because of this
Tied to a chair and thrown into water. If they floated, they were witches, if they did not, they were innocent
If they recite the Lord's prayer without ANY mistakes, they were considered innocent
How could someone be accused of Whitchcraft?
Types of People who settled in massachusetts:
- The people who settled in Salem, massachusetts had originally arrived after being displaced in the 1620s from upstate New York, Nova Scotia, and Quebec.
-These people consisted of Puritans, farmers, fishers, the wealthy, native americans, medics, and ministers.
How they survived:
1. Following the Puritans beliefs and customs. The more you activly showed your faith to God, the less people would assume the possibility of you being a witch. This is so because people who were a witch, had supposedly signed a "contract" with the devil.
2. Blending in with society and the masses. The less people noticed you and the less significant you appeared to be, the more safe in reality you were. This was important to doctors and medics, since if they had supernatural power, they could be assumed to be witch as well.
On the instance of being accused and put to sentence:
1. Confess and say you're a witch. You would lose your property and citizenship to the church, but you would be set free and not hung. The only other problem was, your heirs wouldn't inherit any belongings you owned.
2. Deny you're a witch, and attempt to defend yourself. If, like most, you were proved guilty, you would be placed in prison to await your death sentence. You wouldn't lose any property or belongings to heirs.
On the Instance of Being Accused:
A plank is placed upon the accused and rocks are piled up until they admitted to witchcraft.
Kept up day and night, until willing to admit to anything
Burning at the Stake
A method of execution in which the blamed hands and feet are trussed on a stake and burned to death
Scales Of Justice
If the supposed witch weighs more or less than a stack of bibles, then they were automatically associated with evil
Marks of the Devil
Those who seemed guilty of witchcraft were checked for any extra nipples or birthmarks. If the had any, they were considered marks of the Devil
Pricking of the Flesh
The subject is pricked and prodded with a seemingly long sharp needle(but really isn't)
Someone could be accused of whitchcraft by:
Being a woman
being charged on the "affliction with witchcraft"
not passing the urine cake test