This book is about Freud and his statement ‘I … understand the harsh therapy of the witches’ judges’. The main purpose of the book is to try to make sense of that puzzling statement. This book is important because, as the title suggests, it marks the first time that the inquisitorial method has been associated with psychoanalysis or Freud in a book title.

By using the word ‘therapy’ to describe what the judges were doing in the witch trials, Freud is comparing their procedure with his psychoanalysis because he wrote that ‘Connecting links abound’. He wrote to Fliess, ‘I have ordered the Malleus Maleficarum and … I shall study it diligently’. Malleus Maleficarum (1486), written by two inquisitors, was seen as the ultimate authority on how to extract confessions from witches. A detailed examination of Freud’s case histories from 1892 to 1900 shows him using an inquisitorial procedure similar to the one that the judges and inquisitors used in the witch trials. It appears that Freud wanted to be the first to discover the specific aetiology of hysteria, which he said would be the solution to a thousand-year-old problem.