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Stigmata as a psychosomatic phenomenon

The Independent had a piece about the stigmata (bleeding from the hands and feet supposedly mimicking the wounds of Christ's crucifixion). This phenomenon is sometimes reported of Catholic saints and is taken to be evidence of sanctity.

According to the article, the new French prime minister, Dominique de Villepin, once had a conversation with the philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, in the course of which he compared Lévy to "a Christ without wounds". Lévy woke that night with bleeding from his palms, which continued. After several weeks of unsuccessful attempts at treatment Lévy went back to see de Villepin, who (it is implied) brought about a cure.

Lévy was apparently in a depressed state at the time. The story, if true, is interesting, since it seems to suggest that (as skeptics would suppose) the appearance of the stigmata is a psychosomatic or hysterical phenomenon.


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