Historians, anthropologists, and psychologists have tended to discount the role of “psychosomatic” disease in witchcraft beliefs because they have misunderstood, and therefore underestimated, the connection between interpersonal relations, psychological well-being, and physical health. Current medical knowledge about the relationship between psychological distress, the physiological stress reaction, and somatic disorders, however, gives grounds for a more positive assessment of the traditional notion that ill will can cause illness and accidents. Disturbed interpersonal relations can cause, or contribute to, an extremely wide range of physical maladies, with or without any accompanying fear of witchcraft or magic. Evidence of this effect can be found in reports from a wide range of cultures. It is a significant element in a systematic sample of witch cases from early modern Württemberg.

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