George M. Beard, A.M., M.D. was a Member Of The New York Neurological Society, Of The American Neurological Association, Etc.; Author Of Neurasthenia (Nervous Exhaustion) American Nervousness, Etc.
The Psychology of the Salem Witchcraft Excitement of 1692 and Its Practical Application to Our Own Timeby George M. Beard
A very interesting book comparing the Salem Excitement in 1692 to the Guiteau Excitement in 1882 and the reasons for each incident. Guiteau was an American lawyer who
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The Psychology of the Salem Witchcraft Excitement of 1692 and Its Practical Application to Our Own Time, was written by George M. Beard, A.M., M.D. and published in New York in 1882. (145 pages)
A very interesting book comparing the Salem Excitement in 1692 to the Guiteau Excitement in 1882 and the reasons for each incident. Guiteau was an American lawyer who assassinated U.S. President James A. Garfield on July 2, 1881. He was executed by hanging. He had a history of mental illness.
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.....There are times in the evolution of delusions, and in the history of nations—in which delusions are organized—when non-expertness in any special line— long restrained through circumstances or negligence— becomes a volcano; the low mutterings and reverberations that are at once so frequent and so slight, but so harmless as to cause no alarm, suddenly cease, and from the long quiet crater an eruption appears, darkening the sky and burying the earth in its fiery streams. Such was the witchcraft excitement in Salem in 1692; such was the Guiteau excitement in Washington, in 1882; the one marking the death of the dogma that the innocent should be condemned to death for the fancied crime of witchcraft, on spectre-evidence; and the other marking the death of the dogma that ability to know right from wrong is proof of responsibility, and that the insane who commit murder should be hanged.
.....As the twenty victims of the Salem judicial massacres were nearly the last of the immense army of murdered witches, so Guiteau will be nearly the last important lunatic ever hanged on this continent; and through all time his trial will stand—as the Salem Witchcraft trials have stood—as a historic memorial of the power of passion reinforced by superstition.
.....The researches, the results of which are given in these pages, have occupied at intervals a number of years. Their publication at this time is especially appropriate, on account of the increasing frequency with which questions relating to the judicial treatment of insanity and allied states are coming before the courts and the people. Two important trials, with which from first to last I was professionally connected, that of Cadet Whittaker and that of Guiteau, have impressed on many minds besides my own the need of a study and a re-study of psychology both in its scientific and its political relations. The parallelism between the Salem witchcraft trials and the trial of Guiteau is especially instructive, and, as the two excitements throw light on each other, the case of Guiteau is often referred to in this treatise.
.....The substance of this work was first presented in the form of a lecture with experiments—a kind of moot court— after the manner of the trials at Salem, before the New York Academy of Sciences, April 3, 1882. The experiments, illustrating spectre testimony, were made on two of my trance subjects on whom I had previously experimented and whom I knew to be genuine. One of these young men, while in artificial trance, became violently convulsed, when brought near to the supposed witch, and fell on the floor; and the other saw specters of ravens over or near the witch's .head. That these young men were really entranced had been clearly established by numerous experiments of various kinds made by myself and by others; but, as I distinctly pointed out in the lecture, it was of no significance practically whether their trances were genuine or feigned; in either case the specters and convulsions were worthless as evidence; but on just such testimony—whether real or assumed—our fathers in Salem tried, convicted, and murdered their neighbors and friends.
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