On a warm summer day in Derbyshire, England, in 1985, Jane Hunt, a bus driver's wife, began preparing her family's breakfast when her hands began to burn and itch. She dismissed it as a temporary irritation until later in the morning, when on her way to go shopping she was suddenly riveted with pain, as though thousands of needles were being driven through her hands. The pain was so intense, she rushed back to the house. The night before she went to bed. In front of her husband and daughter, blood started to well up from the unbroken skin in the middle of her palms. Jane Hunt had developed stigmata. Wilson examines many of the confirmed cases, including that of St. Francis, but argues against a religious interpretation of the phenomenon in favor of a medical and psychological explanation. He believes the power of the mindover matter can ultimately be harnessed for more rewarding ends, and he offers evidence of a close link between stigmata and the puzzling phenomena of multiple personality cases. While he dispels the myth of stigmatics as saints, Wilson's intriguing conclusions point to the dramatic ability of the mind to change the body, and offers the potential for fresh insights into the laws of nature.
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