Psychological Factors Of The Salem Witch Trials

1568 Words 7 Pages
In the late 1600’s, several Puritans in the town of Salem were accused of witchcraft and found guilty before being subsequently murdered for it. However, the true cause of what instigated these attacks is still hazy for many historians. Did the root of the problem stem from the mindsets of the Puritans themselves, or was it something else? Ultimately, several sources today suggest that the trouble in Salem was caused by a myriad of factors other than mental illness. Psychological influences were indeed not the predominant cause of the Salem Witch Trials, due to a variety of social and scientific evidence that proves otherwise.
Although some may argue that psychological factors were the only impetus of the witch trials, various modern day accounts
…show more content…
First of all, techniques used by those that questioned and coerced the instigators of various cases of mass hysteria greatly affected how they responded and confessed. For example, in the McMartin case, the children that were interviewed had a method used on them that consisted of “leading, suggestive, and repeated questions,” as well as allowing for “the implantation of false memories in the mind of children” and offering rewards for kids that “disclosed the ‘right’ answers” (text 1, para.4). This is very similar to what happened in Salem; the girls were encouraged to blame witchcraft and were more likely to do so due to questions that only gave way to an answer that made someone more suspect of witchcraft, as well as offering them rewards such as an elevated position in court and, depending on the person, their lives. Additionally, the citizens of Salem were more likely to confess than plead innocent when accused, due to the fact that those that confessed would be allowed to live in order to track down more witches. These are all causes that are not predominantly psychological in nature. Additionally, the oppression women experienced in Salem may have caused them to act out and create the witchcraft phenomena. To support this, Ruth Graham mentions the fact that “If girls can find no outlet for reckless abandon, they’ll create one” (text 2, para. 8). The girls that first blamed witchcraft for all that had happened to them may have just been tired of being constantly restricted. Society in Salem was very rigid and strict, and since the girls often had nothing to do, they may have created the Salem Witch Trials simply for the excitement of it. This is an example of another way the society in Salem pressured its people to point fingers at one another. Finally, the social structure of Salem may have convinced more people to charge their neighbors of witchcraft. The

Related Documents