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Dissertation Title:

What the Witch Knows: A Hermeneutic Depth Psychological Examination of the Salem Trials


Heidi Mezzatesta

Date, Time & Place:

March 26, 2021 at 11:00 am


When the archetype of the witch is activated within the cultural complex of prevailing sociopolitical and economic constructs, history has shown that people, particularly women, die. However, in today’s very divisive social, political, and economic discourse, the witch arrives once again as a figure of empowerment, while still used by authoritarian power systems to marginalize women and even quiet them through execution when they demand social change. The Salem witch trials offer an example of what can occur when prevailing systems of power and control—both political and religious—are upended. Humanity needs a scapegoat, and she is often a witch. This dissertation examines the primary source material from the Salem witch trials through a hermeneutic approach to answer the question, “Is there a way in which we can all identify as witches?” The intent is to understand the psychology of the time period that remains in the American cultural consciousness to this day, impacting not only our personal psychology but the collective as well.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Psychotherapy, TT, 2012
  • Chair: Dr. Lionel Corbett
  • Reader: Dr. Alan Kilpatrick
  • External Reader: Sylvia Perera
  • Keywords: Witch Archetype, Salem Witch Trials, Depth Psychology, Archetype Of The Feminine, Cultural Shadow