Lycanthropy alive in Babylon: the existence of archetype


Dr Hamdy Fouad Moselhy, Department of Psychiatry and Behaviours Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, UAE University, PO Box 17 666, Al Ain, UAE.


Objective:  Lycanthropy is the belief in the capacity of human metamorphosis into animal form. It has been recorded in many cultures. Apart from historic description of lycanthropy, there has been several case reports described in the medical literature over the past 30 years.

Method:  We identified eight cases of lycanthropy in 20 years, mainly in the area of Babylon, Iraq.

Results:  The most commonly reported diagnosis was severe depressive disorder with psychotic symptoms. The type of animal that the patients changed into were mainly dogs (seven cases) and only one case changed into a cow for the first time to report.

Conclusion:  Lycanthropy delusion is a rare delusion but appears to have survived into modern times with possible archetypal existence.