As you’ve seen over the past two weeks, we’ve taken a look at real life examples of forms of classic monsters. I’ve introduced you to the actual scientific zombie, and also to vampyres, people who believe they are vampires in some way shape or form. Now it’s time to move on to Lon Chaney Jt’s most famous role: that of the wolf man.
The origins of the werewolf in Western Society go back to Greek mythology, where the king Lycaon insulted the God Zeus by trying to serve him cooked baby, and Zeus turned him into a wolf for his misdeeds. From there, writers like Virgil and Galen fleshed out the myth into people turning into animals, and the legends began to spread throughout the world. Native American religions also teach that shapeshifters exist, and some tribes still believe in this concept to this day.
One point worth bringing up, the Egyptian pantheon had many gods that were part animal in form, but none actually symbolized the wolf. We do have Anubus, the jackal-headed god of the dead.
However there are four things,two physical, one mental, which can be considered forms of real life werewolfism.
Let’s tackle the concept of Lycanthropy first. This mental disorder gets its name from the previously mentioned King Lycaon from which lukos, the Greek word for wolf, derives from. The other half of the word lycanthropy comes from the Greek word for man, which is Anthropos, which is also the root stem of words like Anthropology.
The mental disorder form of Lycanthropy is not necessarily where people believe they are a werewolf, but is actually an umbrella for when a human believes they are turning into or have become any sort of animal. In India or Asia, it is more commonly that people suffering from this mental malady believe they are tigers.
Clinical Lycanthropy, as it is often called to distinguish itself from the folkloric lycanthropes, has been recorded almost as long as the actual legendary version. One example of early clinical lycanthropy study can be found in Saint Augustine’s, The City of God.
Realize that this version of Lycanthropy is exceedingly rare, and it is usually a symptom of being bi-polar, schizophrenic, or being clinically depressed. Realize there is no physical transformation. The sufferer still looks human, but often does not act like one, except in moments of clarity.
The physical ailments that may be the root of ancient beliefs in werewolves are known as hypertrichosis, hirsutism, and porphyria.
Hypertrichosis is when the body produced an abnormal amount of body hair. It generally affects the torso, face, and limbs of the sufferer. This is not to be confused with a similar disease known as Hirsutism. Hirsutism affects almost only women, and it is generally caused by pituitary tumors, polycystic ovary syndrome, or an unexpected increase in androgens.
Hypertrichosis however, affects men and women and is the result of a recessive genetic disorder. This disease covers the entire human’s body with thick course hair.
One example of a person who suffered from hypertrichosis was Fedor Jeftichew, also known as, “Jo-Jo, the Dog-Faced Boy,” who was one of the original circus oddities of PT Barnum. Often sideshow “freaks” labelled “The Bearded lady” are also suffers of this disease.
There are generally three ways to deal with hypertrichosis: bleaching the hair, waxing OFTEN, or laser electrolysis. With modern methods, hypertrichosis has become simple a large inconvience for sufferers.
The third disease that some people considered to be one of the roots of the Werewolf belief is called Porphyria, a disease some also try to link to the origins of vampirism, due to the sufferers having an extreme sensitivity to light.
Porphyria, according to The American Porphyria Foundationis, “…not a single disease but a group of at least eight disorders that differ considerably from each other. A common feature in all porphyrias is the accumulation in the body of “porphyrins” or “porphyrin precursors.” Although these are normal body chemicals, they normally do not accumulate. Precisely which of these chemicals builds up depends upon the type of porphyria.
The clinical manifestations of the different types of porphyria are not the same. Forms of treatment also depend on the type of porphyria. Therefore, it is difficult to make general statements that apply to all these disorders.
The symptoms arise mostly from effects on the nervous system or the skin. Effects on the nervous system occur in the acute porphyrias. Proper diagnosis is often delayed because the symptoms are nonspecific. Skin manifestations can include burning, blistering, and scarring of sun-exposed areas.
The terms “porphyrin” and “porphyria” are derived from the Greek word “porphyrus” meaning purple. Urine from some porphyria patients may be reddish in color due to the presence of excess porphyrins and related substances in the urine, and the urine may darken after exposure to light.”
I know that Porphyria has been a touchy sibject due to some how folklorists and writers have treated the disease since the 1980’s, so I wanted to make sure I gave you the actual medicial definition to prevent any sort of ill feelings from the APF.
Porphyria generally comes about when the body is deficient in the enzymes that produce heme. which is generally found in red blood cells, the liver, and bone marrow. There are 8 different types or porphyria, and each version releates to WHICH enzyme the body is lacking.
Porphyria is almost always inherented from parents.Whether or not the children of porphyria sufferers develop the genetic malady depends on if the form of Porphyria they have is autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive. And even then Prophyria made be carried in the body but lie dormant for most, if not, ALL of the sufferers life. A good example is my best friend from High School and College. His wife’s mother suffers from porphyria, but neither my friend’s wife nor her twin sister sufffer from the dieases, even though the mother has an autosomal dominant version of the disease.
The eight types of Porphyria are:
Acute Intermittent Porphyria (AIP)
Congenital Erythropoietic Porphyria (CEP)
Porphyria Cutanea Tarda (PCT)
ALAD Porphyria (ADP)
Hepatoerythropoietic Porphyria (HEP)
Hereditary Coproporphyria (HCP)
Variegate Porphyria (VP)
Erythropoietic Protoporphyria (EPP) or Protoporphyria
Generally an outbreak of Porphyria is triggered by excessive drinking, drug use, diet, or the wrong kind of sun exposure. But this is not always the case. This is the problem with such a rare disease. Sometimes it just finally breaks free due to how a sufferer treats their body.
Due to the eight different forms of Porphyria and how each one seems to have distinctly different synptoms ranging from sunlight sensitivity to receeding gums, it’s hard to go into detail of every single form. As well, it’s hard to figure out why some people thinking this disease is responsible for the origins or either the werewolf or vampire myths, seeing that the one thing all forms of Porphyria have in common is the PURPLE URINE. Surely this would have appeared in some vampiric or lycanthropic lore somewhere through the centuries if this theory held any merit. But being the good little schloar, I did want to include this for you, my readers, to see what is considered a possible origin for these myths.
And there we go. A nice simple look at some of the “real” versions of lycanthropy that are out there in modern times. A bit lighter in detail and fare than Zombism and Vampirsm, but then, lycanthropes seem to get the short end of the stick regarding the available research out there.
If you’re interesting in the most thorough book on the subject of all forms of Lycanthropy, I need to suggest The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings by Brad Siegal. You’ll notice Amazon reviewers were not expecting a covering of variants of the legend or “real-life” clinical Lycanthropy sufferers. But in my book, that’s what makes this so good. If covers all the basis, not just fiction or lore. If you’re a Werewolf fan, this is probably the book you need. And it’s quite cheap used off Amazon.
When I’m in Chicago, my friend Chris and I love to go to a little place known as “Redfish.” Amazing food and a wonderful atmosphere. I’ve been really craving a meal there lately, so I though maybe it would be a good idea to give you all a recipe for the fish the establishment is named after.
For those of you who have never eaten redfish, it’s a pretty common fish used in Cajun cooking, and there’s lots of ways to prepare it. I’ve gone with something simple that catches the flavour of the redfish, as I have a feeling that many of you will have to special order it. Especially those in the Midwest… Anyone who knows how to turn on a grill can make this dish. It’s great for those of you just getting your feet wet cooking-wise.
4 Redfish fillets (make them about 8 ounces eat. That’s a good sized portion that’s quite healthy for you)
1/2 teapspoon salt
1/4th teaspoon Tabasco
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
1. Turn the grill on. :-P
2. With your sharpest knife, make 2 slits running diagonally, on the skin covered side of the fillet. Turn the fillet over and season with salt and Tabasco. Put the fish in a shallow bowl and cover the fillet with onions. Place a cover on the bowl and then place the bowl in a refrigerator for roughly half an hour.
3. Remove the bowl from the fridge and then drizzle with the oil on the skinless side of the fillets. Place the fillets, skinless side DOWN on the hot grill. Cook for 5-6 minutes, then turn the fillets over and grill for an additional 5-6 minutes.
4. While the fish is cooking, place the onions in a wire basket and grill them next to the fish. Stir the onions frequently to prevent charring.
5. transfer the fish to a platter, place the onions back on the fillets and serve.
Last week yours truly reviewed the newest Pokemon game and also previewed the upcoming Incredibles game. This week look for my KOF 2002/3 and Digital Devil Saga reviews. My 99th and 100th reviews will be of Shining Force Neo and Call of Cthulhu. Fitting, isn’t it?
In Culture last week we had the following articles:
Rachael is right Black > everything else.
Mark Schmidt gives us a review of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, which I still need to read.
Ellie gave us a lovely chicken recipe.
Carla Lee looks at poems written by an American in London. Had I written poetry while living there, titles would have included “Dude, what’s up with your teeth?” or “I love Wagamama!”
Sinead covers some Frankenstein mumbo jumbo. be careful though as you said your next column will be on Dracula. And you’re got the most anal editor in the world on that subject. ;-)
Spike talks Crock cooking. I know I use my Crock Pot at least once a month and I love it.
Madolan talks wine tasting and the ettiquette involved with it. Always a great read, even for people like myself who don’t drink.
Bat brings up one of my favorite websites, Wrongdiagnosis.com. And any column mentioning Scabies deserves praise.
Cory Laflin puts me through editing hell with his picture laden columns. But damn, are they worth it. Cory’s been giving a wonderful guide to Chess, that can be appreciated by all, no matter your skill level.
In Wrestling, Eric S takes a fan to school about the problems inherint with booking WM around two men who can barley walk, much less wrestle.
Next week, we’ll be taking a look at yet another classic ghoulie or beastie from days of yore. What do you expect people? It’s October,