The people that were accused of witchcraft were likely the ones that were trying to help the unfortunate victims. They were usually the doctors, or herbalists, a person who uses plants for medicinal purposes. So these were not the professions to be in during times of witch hysteria. These particular people were selected as the “witches” because, as healers, they had what seemed to be magical powers over the human body when they cured their patients of what ailed them. And the healers were in some cases able to heal symptoms that were associated with ergotism. For example, mistletoe was effective against some kinds of convulsions and spasms. However, during these bouts of ergotism, their accusers reasoned that if someone could cure illness, they also had the power to cause it as well. Which is why they weren’t accused of causing bubonic plague and other diseases for which they did not have a cure. Doctors today actually don’t have it that different. If you become sick or just say you became sick while a doctor is treating you, you can probably blame the doctor. This situation in which the healer is accused of being a witch is very much analogous to the doctor being sued for malpractice.
However, there are also some records where there did not seem to be any correlation between witchcraft and ergotism. What explanation can be offered for these cases. One explanation of which we cannot be certain is that the symptoms described on records were real. It seems very likely that at least some of the accused people were framed for practicing witchcraft as a means of getting even with somebody. However, these types of events can sometimes be separated. For example, young children and adolescents were frequently the victims and it seemed unlikely that they were trying to “get even” with a neighbor. Another explanation was that during bad times when many people became sick and ill, witchcraft persecution would also be prevalent. Witchcraft in this case was used since something or somebody had to be blamed for what occurred.
TV Insider: ‘Men in Kilts’: Sam & Graham Make Spooky Pit Stops in ‘Witchcraft & Superstition’ (RECAP). https://www.tvinsider.com/989641/men-in-kilts-season-1-episode-4-recap-sam-heughan-graham-mctavish-outlander-witchcraft-superstition/