When I hear the term werewolf, I generally think of Joe Mangianello as Alcide Herveux in True Blood, Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black in Twilight, or of Joseph Morgan as Klaus Mikaelson in The Originals.
(Images all found on Google)
The millennial generation has transformed the scary looking werewolf that eats people into hot men who are burdened with the disease of lycanthropy and are just seemingly misunderstood.
Lycanthrophy, which is derived from two greek words, lykos (meaning wolf) and anthropos (meaning man) (Encyclopedia Britannica).
Lycanthrophy is known as the condition where a man or woman transforms from there human form into a wolf.
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Myths of lycanthrophy have traveled from country to country in many forms. Ancient Greece had myths of areas infested with clans of werewolves (Encyclopedia Britannica) . Ancient Rome had myths that the consumption of a potion called versipellis (translates as turnskin) would turn you into a werewolf (Encyclopedia Britannica). Also, European countries in the middle ages burned potential lycanthropes alive (Encyclopedia Britannica).
No matter the origin of the story, the myth of werewolves has survived generations and has now imbedded itself into 21st century pop culture. Furthermore, to this day there have been reports dating back to the 1800s of people turning into werewolves.
Since 1850, there have been 13 cases of people who have reportedly transformed into a werewolves (Gholipour).
One psychiatrist in particular, Dr. Jan Dirk Blom, has been looking into these cases of reported lycanthropy (Gholipour). Dr. Blom is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands (Gholipour). According to Blom’s research, there have been 52 cases of lycanthropy reported, but only 13 of the original 56 cases meet the actual criteria of clinical lycanthrophy (Blom & Gholipour).
The criteria referenced above is the delusion of turning into a werewolf (Gholipour) . Blom also points out that the term clinical is used emphasize that this means the subject reported is not actual turning into a werewolf (Blom & Gholipour).
The other 39 cases reported had criteria similar to Clinical Lycanthrophy, but reported being able to transform into animals other than a wolf (Gholipour).
Blom further investigated the data reported and discovered that out of the 56 total reported cases, that 25% of the patients were diagnosed with schizophrenia, 23% were diagnosed with psychotic depression, and 20% were diagnosed with bipolar disorder (Blom & Gholipour).
From this, modern science has begun to investigate that brain diseases cause clinical lycanthrophy (Gholipour).
According to the article, a multitude of brain imaging studies have led scientists to the specific areas of the brain that are responsible for giving us a sense of physical existence, as well as the perception of our physical body (Gholipour).
The most important region involve the brain’s outer layer (aka cortex), which is responsible for movement and sensation.
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The patients that Blom studied reported extreme changes in physical appearance, such as: changes in mouth/teeth, broadened chest, shrinking bodies, sensations of burning in thighs and stomach region (Blom & Gholipour) .
Blom suggest that these reported changes are due to issues in various regions of the brain that changed the individual’s perception of their physical shape (Blom).
Blom goes on to recommend that modern psychiatrists continue to diagnose the major brain diseases at hand (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression) because clinical lycanthrophy is just an addition to one of these more prominent dieases (Blom).
Here is a list of suggested ways to treat major psychological disorders.
Although we have modernized and glorified our perception of lycanthrophy in the 21st century, we now know the disease is still at large and is a factor of serious psychological disorders. Our understanding of psychological disorders has only increased over time and I believe that we make greater strides each day in diagnosing and treating such disorders. And now we have a firm understanding of what lycanthrophy is and how it still effects people today.
“Lycanthropy.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.
Gholipour, Bahar. “Real-Life Werewolves: Psychiatry Re-Examines Rare Delusion.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 14 Apr. 2014. Web. 10 Sept. 2016.