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WhiskeyintheJar Romance

Romance book talk, reviews, recipes, and dog pictures

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Guest Reviewer at:  Reading Between the Wines book club

Currently reading

Heiress for Hire
Madeline Hunter
Doctor Sleep
Stephen King
Progress: 50%

Kyraryker’s quotes

"She thought it over, but couldn’t see any immediate loopholes other than the threat of her inner slut emerging, and she could darned well control that little bitch."— Susan Elizabeth Phillips


Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them - Jennifer   Wright

Dancing Plague


Their feet bled until you could see their bone.


Not an ideal situation to be in. This plague is probably the most confounding to me, I'm a proof, factual evidence person and the way the author presenting this one, leaves me baffled and intrigued. The author mentioned that some think mold might have been the cause but then says, she disagrees with that. She then kind of meanders around it being mass hysteria or psychological. I grasp the thinking behind mass hysteria but the descriptions of dancing to the point of death, have me thinking there had to be some source other than sadness or relief, which the author goes on to pseudo-claim, that would cause this kind of physicality. I know the human mind's strength is still not fully known but I still can't fully accept mass hysteria. 


Moreover witnesses consistently spoke of the victims as being entranced, seeing terrifying visions and behaving with wild, crazy abandon.


This is probably why I would be on team mold, some kind of hallucinogen from mold that seeped in through the feet sounds feasible. 


He thought the best treatment, if the condition was brought on by cursing, was to have the dancers make an image of themselves in wax (talented multitasking dancers!), project their thoughts onto the wax doll, and then set the figure on fire. If the disease was brought on by sexy thoughts or frivolity, the dancers should be kept in a dark room and fed only bread and water until they were too sad to have those thoughts anymore. If it was caused by a “corrupt imagination,” they should ingest opium (the basis for heroin) or alcohol.


These cures, I tell ya. The author accounts that people made pilgrimages to a mountain and were given red shoes to wear. Changing of shoes that maybe didn't have the mold or infection? This is where again, I wish the author moved from a more witty repertoire to more historical accounts, documentation, and current conclusions/thoughts. There were other dancing plagues recorded, how similar were their climates or environment? Anything gleaned from that?


course diseases occur independent of mental states, but it is also true that given enough stress, people’s internal miseries can manifest themselves physically.


I completely agree with this but in more of a grey way, I see limitations. The author talks about how people believed they were cured, so they were. When they were dancing to death? I don't know, I put more faith in the simple changing of shoes. 


So their minds simply closed down, and they refused to see anymore—refused to see any more death, any more torture, any more rape, any more starvation.


The author tries to validate her mass hysteria diagnosis with comparisons to trauma victims experiencing mass blindness. In those cases, we have a general root cause and they are not physically acting in a way, dancing until their bones came out of their feet, that directly leads to their death. It was too much of an apples and oranges comparison for me. I also thought it was completely unfair to compare the townspeople's response to bubonic plague towns. Not as encompassing and while the people dancing had to unnerving to a certain extent, not as psychologically destroying as pus covered children banging on windows for help. It seemed the author wanted to lighten or bring more hopeful tone after the doom and gloom of the bubonic plague. It is refreshing how the people of Strasburg responded but I would have liked more inclusion to how their society was structured to point out why it may have been easier for them to do so.


I'm too cynical to buy into the "power of friendship" healed all. I do think happier people have a greater chance at survival but that is tied into a whole bunch of things like happier people tend to take care of their bodies in a more healthy way, symptoms and causes are very interwoven. I think it also is a disservice and cruel to completely link emotion to not surviving a disease; I do think it plays a part but smaller than the author wants to give it credit for here.


I leave this section with a pretty good on fire comment:

It’s perfectly possible to be smarter than everyone else and still be polite and even deferential—women have been doing it for centuries.