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April 3, 1972

S. Weir Mitchell and the Ghosts

Author Affiliations

From the Northwestern University Medical School Library, Chicago.

JAMA. 1972;220(1):76-80. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200010062010

S. Weir Mitchell was born into an old and respected Philadelphia family on Feb 15, 1829. In such well-ordered surroundings ghosts should have had no place, but during Mitchell's long and active life they kept turning up frequently and in many different guises. A religious ghost gave him such a fright when he was a child that he could recall it vividly over half a century later and turn it into a dramatic incident in one of his best novels. Ghost stories occurred in several of his literary efforts, and one of his short stories, "A Ghost of Glory," combines the supernatural with Mitchell's patriotism and his abiding interest in ships. His most unusual ghosts were undoubtedly those of "phantom limbs," the sensations of lost arms and legs that come back to haunt the amputees years after the amputation.

S. Weir Mitchell had been given the name "Silas" but disliked