What Caused the People of Salem to Have Mass Hysteria?

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Randomly accusing innocent people of being devilish, atrocious witches is extremely far fetched and unusual for people to do today. However, in the 1690’s in Salem, Massachusetts, it was a daily occurrence. After seeing people do odd things happening at the time, people got scared and accused them of witches to get rid of them, send them to jail, and possibly kill them. Even worse, the accusers may have actually been sick or insane, or they could of been faking it to get revenge on their enemies. Why would these people randomly accuse innocent people of being witches? Something had to have caused all the mass Hysteria leading to the witch trials in Salem. One way these accusers could have gotten mass hysteria is post-traumatic stress disorder. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a form of anxiety where a person feels guilty or goes insane after some act of violence or death. These accusers may have lived during the Indian wars and may have seen acts of violence. When Mercy Lewis was sixteen years old, it is said, “Lewis’s parents were killed (possibly right before her eyes) in another battle with the Indians,” (Shanzer 68-69). The Indians also practiced voodoo or believed in multiple gods, and since the people of Salem were Puritans who believed in one God, they hated what the Indians did. Mercy Lewis eventually stated that, “She thought the Indians were Devils.” Lewis then accused a man threatening to kill her if she did not sign the Devil’s book (Shanzer 69). Another possible reason the accusers may have gotten mass hysteria was if one person got scared of witches, it is human nature to say “I’m scared of witches too!” Some of the accusers had a good reason to believe certain people could have been witches. Tituba, the slav... ... middle of paper ... ...ether it could have been the Indian War or believing you have something just because someone else has it, the chances of this odd illness randomly occurring is highly unusual. The Salem Witch Trials were highly unusual and incredibly unreasonable, but it was a serious, unfortunate event. Innocent lives were taken due to a form of mass hysteria so mass hysteria is no laughing matter. Works Cited In Search of History: Salem Witch Trials. A&E Networks, 1998. Schanzer, Rosalyn. Witches!: The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2011. Print. "Why Are More Than a Dozen Girls in Upstate New York Twitching?" Slate Magazine. Web. 03 Apr. 2014. .
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