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December 19, 1966

Scared to Death

Author Affiliations

Shelton Hospital, Shrewsbury Shropshire, England

JAMA. 1966;198(12):1314. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03110250128042

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To the Editor:—  I was interested to read the brief reports of further cases by George X. Trimble (195: 952, 1019, 1966) and Willard E. Goodwin 197:516, 1966). There would now seem to be little doubt about the authenticity of the "scared to death phenomenon," which, as Dr. Murray Jackson suggests (Brit Med J2:1124, 1965), may have tremendous medical significance.Much correspondence appeared on this important topic in the British Medical Journal between Aug 7 and Nov 13, 1965. Some informed speculations were also made in the column "Without Prejudice" on Oct 9,1965.In some of the cases reported, persons appeared to have been literally scared to death by fortunetellers or others forecasting when death would occur. It seems that death suggestions directly implanted in the minds of susceptible people in this way could often result in prolonged and severe anxiety and occasionally in death. Following upon