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April 30, 1898


JAMA. 1898;XXX(18):1052-1053. doi:10.1001/jama.1898.02440700044007

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Some years ago the Popular Science Monthly devoted no little editorial space to what it called the recrudescence of superstition. In this discussion "Christian science," folklore medicine, charms, etc., were regarded as a revival of fifteenth century practices in the closing nineteenth century. In truth, however, these were simply atavistic survivals of prehistoric fetichism which had persisted in popular folklore. They were pushed to the front by accidental wealth-getting by people in the lowest grades of culture. Chicago, from its cosmopolitan population, is peculiarly liable to these fetichistic explosions. In Chicago demons are still exorcised from the insane by Italian ecclesiastics, as more than one medical superintendent of the County Insane Hospital has had reason to know. Germans of the lower rural middle class still believe in "magic trees." "Dr." Paul Wachter, an ex-barber was lately sent to the penitentiary at the instance of German politicians for pocketing money from

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