Of witch crazes and health scares

Peter Spencer's Personal space
As a health psychologist, my contribution to medical history is, and is likely to remain, non-existent. However, one of my distant ancestors had the distinction of being examined by William Harvey (who discovered the circulation of the blood) – Mary Spencer, with sixteen others, had been found guilty of witchcraft. Today we might be baffled by such inhumane and unscientific folly, but is modern society as enlightened as we might like to believe? In this article I hope to trace a line from my ancestor to the types of modern health scares that my profession should be attempting to understand and to reduce. Whilst we may no longer fear and invent stories about witches, we are more than capable of imagining illnesses, poisons and toxins. This fear can be as debilitating for us as fear of supernatural forces was for our forebears.

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