University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Demons of the Mind: Satanic Thoughts in Seventeenth-Century England

Oldridge, Darren (2020) Demons of the Mind: Satanic Thoughts in Seventeenth-Century England. The Seventeenth Century, 35 (3). pp. 277-292. ISSN Print: 0268-117X Online: 2050-4616

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This article explores the widespread belief in Stuart England that the Devil could intrude thoughts into the human mind. Drawing on medical and religious literature, it argues that this idea was accepted throughout the seventeenth century, and remained largely unchallenged by naturalistic theories of mental illness. Indeed, contemporaries often combined demonic and physiological explanations for conditions such as "melancholy". The article argues that the concept of satanic thoughts survived because it was consistent with wider aspects of Protestant doctrine, and its effects were socially and politically unthreatening. Finally, it considers the relationship between the early modern belief in satanic incursions in the mind and modern understandings of mental health.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Staff and students at the University of Worcester can access the full-text of the online published version via the UW online library search. External users should check availability with their local library or Interlibrary Requests Service.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: devil, health, melancholy, mind, religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Humanities
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Depositing User: Darren Oldridge
Date Deposited: 07 Apr 2019 08:19
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2021 11:47

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