Piper, Salem, and the Communal Demonic

  • Tadd Ruetenik


The phenomenon of hypnotism shows that the idea of possession is a matter of both individual and social psychology. James comments on public performances of hypnotism, as well as the Salem Witch Trials. The idea of social suggestibility and the notorious Malleus Maleficarum are considered, showing James’ belief that the demonic is merely the stupid will of the Many acting as One in order to assert itself upon an individual. The focus here is on the particular characters that supposedly controlled medium Leonora Piper during her trances. James presents a curious hypothesis of demonic personality according to which the internal memories of a person can connect in some way with the lingering effects of that person on the objective world.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tadd Ruetenik
    • 1
  1. 1.Saint Ambrose UniversityDavenportUSA

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