Shape-shifting, the mental illness


During certain centuries, and in certain countries, shape-shifting was linked to a mental illness.  More precisely, to a rare form of depression.  It was said, the shape-shifter, as well as its victim, ‘might’ be suffering from  melancholy or heartbreak.  Or was in between mood changes while awaiting love to strike him.  If the individual patient could not be healed, then the doctor called it ‘a demonic possession’.

This school of thought about shape-shifters was probably based on the length of time the person remained still in the same position, while claiming he was shape-shifting.  Just like a real shape-shifter, the patient would ask his family or friends not to move him while he appeared as if in a trance; so that he could come back.  He warned, not to move him during his trance, so he could return.  Not only did the patient believe that he actually had actually transformed into a ware-wolf, he hunted and killed people for real.

The official clinical diagnosis of this shape-shifting mental illness, is ‘clinical lyncanthropy’.  Clinical lyncanthropy is defined as:  a rare psychiatric syndrome that involves a ‘delusion’ that the affected person can transform into, or has transformed into, or  is a real ware-wolf.

In mythology, lycanthropy concerns the metamorphosis into the form of a ware-wolf.  The word ‘lycanthropy’ can also be taken at it’s larger sense, to mean all sorts of transformations human-animal, in addition to those humans or animals who suffer from it.

There are also other words to describe ‘shape-shifting’ when it comes down to animal forms.  Namely theriantrhopy, zoanthropy, bynanthropy, kynanthropy, and cynanthropy.

Certain characters are made-out to be transformed.  The term ‘therianthropy’, describes a character who shares some human traits with some human capacities borrowed from animals.  However, it is still a metamorphosis of a human into an animal.  Not only have therianthropes had a long existence in mythology, they also appear in the ancient cave drawings as the Sorcerer – in the cave of Les Trois Freres (the three brothers), in the Ariege Department in France.  Sometimes, ‘zoanthropy’ is used instead of theriantropy…

Sometimes, ‘bynanthropy’ is spelled ‘kynanthropy’.  The term kynanthropy is used when “shape-shifters alternate between dog form and human form”.  Or when beings who do not shape-shift, “have combined dog and human anatomical features”.  It is also used for “real persons suffering from the ‘delusion’ that they are dogs”.

Therianthropy, is also a spiritual belief. A spiritual belief in animal transformation; thus zoanthropy is extended to mean, a spiritual belief in animal transformation. Zoanthropy is a term that could have possibly been used in 16th century criminal trials of suspected werewolves. In Greek mythology, there is also the term ‘cynanthropy’. Cynanthropy (kynior, dog).

This is obviously not a complete list of shape-shifting terms for humans who transform into animals. However they fit under the umbrella of lycanthropy. And when someone does not actually transform, but rather – suffers from the ‘delusion’ that he does – then clinical lyncanthropy is applicable.

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One thought on “Shape-shifting, the mental illness

  1. Dear friend, Thank you very much, I was really happy to have been following your blog. I’m still a lot to figure out, and here I can only say that you are an awesome blogger, full Inspiring and hope you can inspire more readers. Thanks and greetings compassion from Gede Prama 🙂

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