Poisoning from ergot residues in the bread
The devil was behind many misfortunes for people in the Middle Ages. Behavior that explains itself as a mental disorder like schizophrenia was considered demon obsession.
Did Satan Poison the Food? A rotting afflicted the people of Xanten in 857 AD. In Veitdanzen people collapsed in convulsions. The St. Antonius fire, also called tingling disease, begins with circulatory disorders. Limbs die, horrors plague those affected. The Antonite order treated the sick in 370 hospices, in the 15th century up to 3000 people. Antonius (d. 356) won his holiness because he was exposed to hell visions in loneliness and was therefore considered the patron saint of those plagued by nightmare pictures. His faithfulness made the saints overcome the temptations of Satan. From a psychological point of view, he dealt with projections of his unconscious. Reflecting that can trigger a healing process.
Tube mushroom cause of delusional states
The waves of witch hunts have sometimes been accompanied by delusions in which people believed they had been bewitched, looked for guilty people and found them in the supposed witches who, under torture, made a pact with the devil and died at the stake. A wave of witch trials occurred in the second half of the 16th century. This phase is known as the Little Ice Age. The temperature dropped. Such cooling provides excellent conditions for the ergot, Claviceps purpurea, a tubular fungus that attacks rye, other cereals and grass as a parasite. Symptoms, ergotism, cramps and paralysis follow eating cereals that the fungus contaminates. Hallucinations are side effects, similar to the horror images of witchcraft. Mass epidemics of the Middle Ages can be explained with ergot. Bread, baked from poisoned flour, claviceps in straw and hay, the bed and the cattle shed - the toadstool was part of everyday life. Like heroin, the fungus works by inhaling. Mowing and threshing distributed the parasite, the villagers inhaled claviceps. Agricultural historians assume that a third of the grain was infested with ergot.
Constant intoxication from poisoned bread?
The theory speaks against the fact that mythical ideas cannot be derived from climatic conditions. People did not believe in God or the Devil because they had fungal poisoning. The circumstances under which fear turns into hysteria could be influenced by ergot. The literary historian Piero Camporesi sees the simple people of early modern times in a constant frenzy through poisoned bread. A constant supply of ergot in small doses leads to a psychosis that corresponds to the fantasies of witchcraft delusion, because the hell visions of devil believers and the horror trip with LSD are not only similar; LSD was developed from the mushroom.
Witch hysteria due to ergot poisoning
Psychologist Linda Carporael suspects ergot behind the witch hysteria and investigated the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Eight girls said at the time that they were animals and monsters. They accused locals of bewitching them. Nineteen of the denounced suffered the death penalty. Then the symptoms stopped. Carporael declared the climate at the time of the witch trial to be ideal for the spread of the fungus. Rye, his main host, was the main crop in New England. The girls went crazy in winter after the farmers threshed the grain.
A case in Pont-Saint-Esprit in France in 1951 showed the effects of fungal fever. 200 inhabitants poisoned themselves with contaminated flour; several dozen had to go to psychiatry. They saw tigers and snakes attack. A boy choked his mother, a woman jumped out of the window because she thought she was flying. A priest exorcised the bakery. Ergotism does not explain witchcraft belief, but it may have been a fire accelerator for mass psychoses associated with the witch craze. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)