Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Link Between Werewolfery and Illness

When we think of lycanthropy, most of us probably think of the "rare psychiatric syndrome which involves a delusion the affected can or has transformed into an animal." (Okay, that's straight from Wikipedia, which, I'll be the first to tell you, should never be considered your real resource because anyone can mess with the info there.)

"Lycanthropy, a psychosis in which the patient has delusions of being a wild animal (usually a wolf), has been recorded since antiquity, " say Harvey Rostenstock, M.D. and Kenneth R. Vincent, Ed. D. They include a fascinating case report at the same link.

A recent guest blogger at Shapeshifter Romance, Lori Handeland, mentions the illness that struck down the Biblical king Nebuchadnezzar.

In the county of Angus, the word (pronounced warwoof) used to mean a small or "puny" child or "an ill-grown person of whatever age" (according to Montague Summers' The Werewolf in Lore and Legend resource Dr. John Jamieson).

In some circles, more currently, the werewolf's swift change of nature is now equated to bipolar disorders and even schizophrenia or multiple personality disorder. If you think about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it might be easier to see the connection. One moment a person seems fine, balanced, content and then--quite suddenly--the switch occurs and the monster inside--that primitive beast we all keep caged--comes out and takes over. The person's mood swings and they psychologically crash.

Will werewolfism always be linked to illness? Probably, in some small way. We fear illness and have traditionally feared werewolves (and even just wolves). And remember, it's in humanity's nature to fear change...

...And that's what werewolves really are: change personified. ;-)

What do you think? Feel free to comment here,
~Saoirse

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