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February 1974

A Case of Stigmata

Author Affiliations

Oakland, Calif
From the Department of Pediatrics, West Oakland Health Center (Dr. Early), and the Department of Psychiatry, University of California, Berkeley (Dr. Lifschutz).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;30(2):197-200. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760080057009

Cases of religious stigmatization are extremely rare in the medical literature. We recently observed a 10½-year-old black Baptist girl who experienced religious stigmata periodically over a three-week period immediately preceding Easter Sunday 1972. Closest possible scrutiny made it unlikely that these lesions were self-induced. The child, who is intensely religious, comes from a large, lower-middle class family in a large city. Her physical examination results were entirely normal. We were unable to detect psychopathology except within the range of her religious experience, ie, indifference toward the bleeding and auditory hallucinations of a religious nature. Since no extensive psychological examination was possible, only the most general psychodynamic speculations are given. The recently described entity, psychogenic purpura, strikingly demonstrates the reality of mentally induced bleeding.

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