Porphyria and Lycanthropy

The disease porphyria may have led to accusations of lycanthropy or vampirism.

A rare congenital disorder, porphyria is characterized by extreme sensitivity to light (exposure to sunlight causes vesicular erythema), reddish-brown urine, reddish-brown teeth, and ulcers which destroy cartilage and bone, causing the deformation of the nose, ears, and fingers. Mental aberrations, such as hysteria, manic-depressive psychosis, and delirium, characterize this condition as well. Illis [a clinical neurologist] argues that the physical deformities, in conjunction with psychopathology and nocturnal wandering due to photosensitivity, could have been mistaken as evidence of werewolfism (Sidky 239).

Cases of porphyria seem to have a geographic factor. Many cases occur in Switzerland and Sweden "in certain districts and especially along certain valleys" (Otten 196). Similarly, many reports of werewolves originated in these areas.

This woman matches the physical description of werewolves. The picture shows "congenital porphyria showing photosensitization, scarring, and mutilation" (Otten 198).

Author: Shantell Powell
Source: The ShanMonster Page


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