In this topical study the author argues that the naming and persecution of women as witches in the 16th and 17th century resulted from the powerful unresolved psychic conflicts of their persecutors. The historical and social contexts in which trials took place are examined for evidence of how attitudes and beliefs of the time came to play their part in the extraordinary development of this persecutory phenomenon. Evelyn Heinemann asserts that the witch phenomenon is an example of the potential for destructiveness by the human imagination and shows the necessity of understanding unconscious processes in social phenomena today. The dark forces and process identifiable in the past continue to find expression in the demonization and persecution of men and women today. This book will be of interest to psychoanalysts, sociologists, social historians and women everywhere.