Premature burial (taphophobia) is an ancient fear, but it became especially common in 18th and 19th century Europe and may have a modern-day counterpart. Examination of a well-documented case from medieval Persia reveals the importance of funeral practices in the risk of actual premature burial and sheds light on the question of why taphophobia became so prevalent in Europe during the early industrial revolution period. The medieval Persian case was attributed to hysterical paralysis (conversion). We discuss the relationship between hysterical paralysis and premature burial more generally and show that although understanding of conversion syndrome remains incomplete, modern knowledge and practices have limited the risk of any similar tragedy today.
- Conversion disorder
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine