The Trials Of The Salem Witch Trials Essay

The Trials Of The Salem Witch Trials Essay

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The Salem Witch Trials began in 1692, and over the course of only one year, over 200 people were accused of witchcraft and 20 were executed. The trials created a panic among the people of Salem as religious leaders and afflicted girls furiously accused their fellow man of witchcraft. At the center of all this chaos stood Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Parris. The girls screamed out in pain, had horrendous fits, and cried that they were being possessed by the devil. Local religious leaders took immediate action against these so-called witches. However, nothing could seem to heal the pain of these young girls. Medicine in Puritan society was not nearly as advanced as it is today, and it was hard to discover the true cause of Parris and Williams phenomenons. Some historians and doctors believe the girls were afflicted with ergotism, fever or epilepsy. However, the most logical explanation for the episodes of Williams and Parris was schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a disease of the neurological system which causes hallucinations, paranoia, and religious delusion. (The Mayo Clinic). The afflictions of Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Parris could have been caused by undiagnosed schizophrenia due to their severe erratic behavior, how little was known of the disease at the time, and spread due to the strict Puritan religious beliefs.
Elizabeth Parris was the daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris, a well respected religious leader in Salem. Rev. Parris also had custody of his young niece Abigail Williams. Schizophrenia is a hereditary trait, and it is not uncommon for two cousins to both have the condition. The two girls lived together with Reverend Samuels and his slave Tituba peacefully until the winter of 1691. Tituba had taught Williams an...


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...March 21st, 1760. (Brooks). On the contrary, there are no records stating what happened to Abigail Williams after the Salem Witch Trials. In Marilynne K. Roach’s The Salem Witch Trials: a Day by Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege, Roach claims that “Abigail Williams, haunted to the end, apparently died before the end of 1697 if not sooner, no older than seventeen.” However, there is very little evidence to support this claim. (Brooks). The two girls were only nine years old, and battled against a very serious mental disorder. The religious delusion from their schizophrenia played a large role in making the girls believe they truly were possessed by the devil. Schizophrenia is extremely severe when untreated, and Parris and Williams never did receive help. Undiagnosed schizophrenia could have been the force behind mass accusations, executions, and lots of chaos.

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