Wolf in sheep’s clothing

There’s a fascinating case report in the medical journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica about a man who became psychotic and developed the delusional belief that his mother had transformed into a wolf.

Lycanthropy is the name given to the mythical condition that causes someone to turn into a werewolf.

However, it’s also the name given to the psychiatric syndrome where someone becomes psychotic and believes they have tranformed or are transforming into another animal. It’s a fascinating condition as I discussed in a past article.

This case report is the first to describe a case where the person believed someone else was transforming into an animal, in this case a wolf:

He stated that he was captured by devil and sometimes his thoughts or
body were controlled by its power. Sometimes he had auditory hallucinations and heard the sound of drumming.

He said that he had drooling from his mouth for no apparent reason. He also claimed that this feeling caused some other changes in him, for example, he had previously had doubts about his ability to command animals and had now seen cats obey his commands.

He was from a low socioeconomic family and lived with all of his family members in a single room. His parents lay him down between themselves. One night sleeping beside her mother he had a dream. He saw a few undistinguishable creatures which reminded him of animals. He awoke and felt air flow coming out of his nostrils which changed his mother into a wolf. After this event his restlessness and agitation had become worse and finally he was admitted into the psychiatric ward.

Interestingly, the author, Dr Alireza Nejad, is a psychiatrist in Iran, and has written a number of fascinating papers on rare delusional syndromes.

Link to PubMed entry for case report.

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