I get some strange thoughts as I consider my aging body. I say consider instead of observe because I try not to look at my aging body unless absolutely necessary. In my head, I still look 30ish, and I much prefer that view.

But lately I’ve been thinking about skin tags – you know those little places on your body where the skin suddenly seems to decide to grow off in its own direction. They aren’t warts, just little pieces of flesh that grow on a thin stalk. They can be so small you don’t even notice them, or they can dangle like a tiny, and very unattractive, earring. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you are probably too young. Wait a few years and you’ll know exactly what I mean.

At any rate, I started wondering if skin tags are what the Witch Hunters called witches’ teats. These were believed to be the places where the witches’ animal familiars suckled, and sometimes where the Devil himself sucked when he “bedded” the witch. A woman accused of witchcraft would be stripped naked and pricked with pins over her entire body until a witches’ teat or a place where there was no feeling (the Devil’ mark) was found.

Contemporary medical science says there is no gender difference in who gets skin tags. Yet I have never read of a man accused of witchcraft who had an extra teat to nurse his animal familiar, only old woman.

Which makes me think of hysteria. A jump, you may think? Maybe.

The ancient Greeks believed that the uterus drifted free in the body, and if a woman became hysterical, it was because the uterus had floated up and grabbed her by the throat, blocking her ability to breathe. The word hysteria comes from the Greek word for uterus.

Men, lacking a uterus, could never become hysterical. Instead, when they exhibited similar symptoms, it was because of tiny lesions in the brain. Unfortunately, this could not be proven through autopsy, because as soon as oxygen touched the brain, the lesion would heal instantaneously. Convenient, no? This was prevailing medical knowledge until the 19th century.

Then they decided that female hysteria was caused by the stresses of modern life and could only be cured through the doctor (almost always male at this time) giving the patient (always female) a “pelvic massage.” Yeah, right.

I guess both these examples show that people tend to see exactly what they expect to see. It takes a truly unusual mind to see beyond its own biases and background.

As for me, I lost my uterus year ago and now I’m off to the dermatologist to have these damn skin tags removed!

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