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JAMA 100 Years Ago
June 12, 2013

HEALTH, HYGIENE AND HAUNTED HOUSES

Author Affiliations
 

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2013;309(22):2308. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.174875

It is by no means a new experience to find the miracles of ancient days and the mysteries of occult arts fading away in the light of modern science. The bloody bread of the Middle Ages, for example, with its sinister forebodings and religious implications, has to-day become a simple demonstration in bacteriology. Unexpected luminous surfaces appearing in the absence of any visible source of light are easily explained by any student of the biology of phosphorescence. Even the almost impenetrable marvels of the active mind as well as those curious manifestations, like hypnotism, which pass under the name of psychic phenomena are yielding to the attempts at a rational interpretation. Weird visions and strange ghosts have at length become the expressions of a disordered mind rather than the visitations of an offended deity. And now the “haunted” house—chronicled in fiction and actually shunned in real life—has been deprived of its mystifying wonders and frightful horrors by the findings of twentieth century hygiene.

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