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Early Modern Witches and Demonic Sexual Fantasies: An Evolutionary Perspective

Edward Dutton and John Oliver Allen Rayner-Hilles


Published: 2021/06/01


Many accounts of witchcraft in the Early Modern era testify to accused witches having had sex, willingly or unwillingly, with the Devil. Historians tend to explain this in terms of hysteria or pressure to confess to a perceived template for witch-like behavior. In this study, it is argued that these accounts can be understood via evolutionary analyses of female psychology. It is shown that the females who were accused of witchcraft tended to be high in social dominance and socio-sexuality, and/or unwilling to conform to the patriarchal system. It is further demonstrated that these precise traits are correlated with intense sexual fantasies, including so-called ‘rape fantasies’. It is averred that this model makes sense of the many accounts in which Early Modern witches confessed to having slept with Satan.

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