The Salem Witch Trials
Another well-documented case of mass hysteria resulting from accusations of witchcraft occurred in the village of Salem, Massachusetts. During February 1692, the juvenile female population went into fits and began to act like animals. They claimed they had been bewitched by three women in the village, including a West Indian slave called Tituba. As had been the case in Europe, others soon became implicated as the contagion spread, and there were 50 executions before the madness was brought to an end.
Most modern commentators believe that those accused of witchcraft had no real psychic powers, but were either self-deluded or totally innocent, and merely caught up in the fear and paranoia. Certainly, most of those charged with the crime were victims of an hysteria that was taken advantage of and used for political advantage, to purge certain ‘undesirables’ from society. However, evidence of clairvoyance, the mainstay of today’s psychic detective, was often seen in some of the women deemed to be witches.