The human brain is a fickle thing. It’s strange how something so advanced, complex and mysterious – the root of human intellect – is also responsible for some crazy psychological disorders. From making one think they’re a cow, to the irrational fear of genitalia shrinking back into the body.
**Peculiar Psychology will be a two-part series covering uncommon human psychological disorders.
…Let’s explore some of these, shall we?
The power of obsessive love is an idea that has been explored in a lot of different media (I’m strongly reminded of Ron’s infatuation with Romilda Vane in the Harry Potter series). Turns out that a love potion isn’t needed to generate these effects. Erotomania is all you need.
Everyone has at least one celebrity crush – mine are Ed Sheeran, Justin Timberlake, Nathan Fillion and Ewan McGregor (just to name a few). They’ll never know who I am – to my immense displeasure – but people with Erotomania have the delusional belief that not only do their celebrity crushes know them, but are actually secretly in love with them.
It can get really bad, too. For the sake of example, let’s say that I suffered from Erotomania and I believed that Ed Sheeran was secretly in love with me. I would believe that any time he appeared on TV, the radio or wherever, he would be talking to me, or about me. His love songs would be all about me. He would be stealing secret glances at me, and sending me telepathic signals, messages or hints to tell me that he loved me. I would write him letters, send him gifts and attempt to visit him, naively believing that I would be met with a happy reception and not confusion or disbelief. I would get so deeply ingrained that if the subject of my affection outright told me that he was not, in fact, madly in love with me, I wouldn’t believe it. I would think that he was denying my affection simply to conceal this forbidden love from the rest of the world.
So, you can imagine that this makes it especially difficult for the delusion to be broken.
The causes of Erotomania are unknown, along with many other aspects of the disease. But it is associated with mental or delusional disorders like schizophrenia. And fear not! It is able to treated with anti-psychotics.
Werewolves and other forms of shapeshifting are rife throughout high fantasy, mythos and ancient culture. But as it turns out, they are real. Sort of.
Clinical lycanthropy is the umbrella term used to describe a syndrome in which the afflicted believes they are either in the process in, or have transformed into an animal. Although the word lycanthropy describes the transformation from human to wolf (from Greek λύκος, lykos, “wolf”, and ἄνθρωπος, anthrōpos, “man”), there are many other ‘anthropies’, such as:
boanthropy (in which a person believes they are a cow) or
ophidiananthropy (in which a person believes they are a snake).
One person even reported a serial transformation, where he changed from a human, to a dog, to a horse, and to a cat, before returning to his human form. Talk about a mind trip!
Scientists say that the first criterion for clinical lycanthropy are delusions. The afflicted believe that their transformation into an animal is a delusion. From then on follows the vivid hallucinations, and the development of traits that animal has. Patients have genuinely thought that their body had changed physically, exhibiting the growth of things like claws, fur, and fangs – but this was also just in their minds. The patient would then exhibit changed behaviours of their animals – culminating in:
– changes of diets (e.g. refusal to eat anything but raw meat),
– changes in sounds (e.g. grunts, growls, howls),
– changes in locomotion (e.g. walking on all-fours), and
– changes in habitation (e.g. living outside).
They would, for all intents and purposes, become that animal.
There are varying theories behind how clinical lycanthropy arises in individuals. Some think that the delusions originate in dreams, which then pervade the waking mind. Others believe that since it has a strong association with other mental disorders (such as schizophrenia, bipolar and clinical depression), it may be a mere expression of them. The best way to treat the condition, in this case, would be to treat the underlying disorder.
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