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2015 Digest

Jan. 3rd, 2016 11:56 am
frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (A stylized green dragon person reading a)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Briefly, some news of interest to otherkin from 2015 that I haven't previously reported on this blog. In chronological order:

Read more... )

I have an idea for how I could run this blog in a way that I hope would be efficient enough to be manageable. I could post to our Twitter about news articles as soon as I find them. Then, at the end of each month, I could post a digest to here and to our Tumblr. It would just be a collection of headlines, links, and brief summaries, rather than whole articles of original writing with complete citations. What do you think?

As always, there's a lot of news out there and I can't do this alone, so anyone who can help out by posting news links in this blog as they find them would be very much appreciated.
frameacloud: A stylized green dragon person reading a book. (A green dragon person reading a book.)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Content warnings: The links have some graphic descriptions of mental illnesses and delusions.

March 2014. Jan Dirk Blom published an article in the academic journal History of Psychiatry. Blom's article "When doctors cry wolf: a systematic review of the literature on clinical lycanthropy" looks at 56 cases of clinical lycanthropy or zoanthropy from 1850 to present. These are psychiatric cases in which people believed that they were animals, or were becoming other creatures. A popular source, LiveScience, offers a summary of Blom's article.

Sources

Jan Dirk Blom. "When doctors cry wolf: a systematic review of the literature on clinical lycanthropy." History of Psychiatry 25: 1 (March 2014). http://hpy.sagepub.com/content/25/1/87.short doi: 10.1177/0957154X13512192

Bahar Gholipour. "Real-Life Werewolves: Psychiatry Re-Examines Rare Delusion." April 16, 2014. LiveScience (online magazine). http://www.livescience.com/44875-werewolves-in-psychiatry.html
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Content warnings: The linked article is about mental illness and witch trials.

Journal cover.
This September's issue of the academic journal called the History of Psychiatry has an article about medical responses to the condition of believing that one is a werewolf (lycanthropy). In "Battling demons with medical authority: werewolves, physicians and rationalization," Metzger "attempts to construct a conceptual history of werewolf beliefs and their respective medical responses." Metzger focuses on early physicians' categorization of lycanthropy as a melancholic disease, in contrast with demonologists' beliefs about werewolves as recorded in werewolf trials.

Presumably, Metzger's article also touches on modern psychological definitions of clinical lycanthropy. (Unfortunately, I don't have access to academic databases at the moment, and therefore I lack the full text of the article. I'm working on that problem. In the meantime, would any scholars please help me out by summarizing more of the full text?)

- O. Scribner



Source


Nadine Metzger, "Battling demons with medical authority: werewolves, physicians and rationalization." History of Psychiatry 24, no. 3 (2013), 341-355. doi: 10.1177/0957154X13482835 http://hpy.sagepub.com/content/24/3/341
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Trigger warnings: mental illness (clinical lycanthropy), violence, religion (Catholicism, exorcism, demonic possession).

July: A cryptozoologist named Malcolm Smith wrote an article about a clinical lycanthropy patient who was last heard of in 1992. The subject is William “Bill” David Ramsey (b. 1943-). Since childhood, Ramsey occasionally had situations in which he believed he was becoming a werewolf, during which he behaved inappropriately and violently, and sometimes had hallucinations. These episodes were so severe that he was sometimes arrested and hospitalized. Ramsey was successfully cured of this problem by an exorcism in 1989. For this reason, demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren interpret Ramsey’s condition as demonic possession rather than mental illness. Smith cites from two sources about the Warrens and Ramsey. Michael notes that he could find no information about Ramsey after his interview in 1992.

Here’s some extra context that Smith did not bring up. The below is based on my own research on werewolves and clinical lycanthropy.

Ramsey’s references to moon phases have more similarity to his contemporary pop culture imagery of werewolves than old folklore. His condition had even less resemblance to the behavior of actual wolves. This factor makes it more likely that Ramsey’s beliefs were a mental syndrome rather than a supernatural phenomenon, even if one believes the latter is possible.

I find it odd that Ramsey is not mentioned in the psychological literature on clinical lycanthropy. Perhaps this is only because Ramsey chose not to enter a mental hospital, fearing the stigma. The literature on clinical lycanthropy only talks about people who were admitted to mental hospitals. The lack of formal documentation for this case (aside from the Warrens’ book), and the lack of information about Ramsey after 1992, give me cause to question whether Ramsey’s case might be a complete fabrication.

It’s important to understand that clinical lycanthropy is a psychological syndrome, not a specific mental illness. In the definition of lycanthropy established by Keck, et al., the belief of becoming an animal isn’t connected with any specific mental illnesses. It could happen together with any of them. A person with clinical lycanthropy doesn’t just believe they’re an animal: they really believe they’re physically changing, usually against their will, and they lose control over their behavior.

This case makes me wonder if the scarcity of clinical lycanthropy in psychological literature-- as noted by Keck-- might be because the subjects go to exorcists for help instead of mental hospitals. One of the common features of clinical lycanthropy is that the subject believes that they’re possessed by a demon.



Sources


Malcolm Smith, “The English werewolf.” Malcolm’s musings: Anomalies. 2013-07-31. http://malcolmsanomalies.blogspot.com.au/2013/07/the-english-werewolf.html

(Smith primarily cites from this: Ed and Lorraine Warren, Werewolf: A true story of demonic possession. St. Martin’s, 1991.)

Paul E. Keck, et al., “Lycanthropy: Alive and well in the twentieth century.” Psychological Medicine 18 (1988), p. 113-120.
frameacloud: A white dragon with its tail in a knot. (Heraldry transparent)
[personal profile] frameacloud
Summary: News from 2012 regarding topics of interest to otherkin and therianthropes (therians), including: a new study on clinical lycanthropy, an anthology of non-supernatural otherkin and therian romantic fiction, a survey of therians and furries, a Tarot deck for people who were extraterrestrials in past lives, a therian-inspired art exhibit, advances in the technology of wearable animal ears, other transhuman innovations, and the death of Stalking Cat.

Trigger warnings: mental illness, death.

2012-01. A new academic article about clinical lycanthropy was published in The Journal of Psychiatric Practice, focusing on the case study of Ms. A., 47, who believed herself to be a snake.1 The syndrome of lycanthropy recognized in psychiatry has some traits in common with spiritual therianthropy as discussed in the therianthrope community, in that the subject believes himself or herself to be or become an animal. The syndrome itself isn’t a mental illness, and doesn’t consistently correlate with any specific mental illnesses. Clinical lycanthropy is distinguished by delusions of physical transformation, and presence of other mental illnesses; all but one case of clinical lycanthropy have quickly responded to treatment. People in the therianthrope community, on the other hand, generally don’t believe they physically transform. The new article itself is behind a pay-wall. You can get the gist of the article through an irreverent informal commentary on it in the Neurotic Physiology blog.2

2012-09. Good Mourning Publishing is working on assembling an anthology of short romantic fiction titled Shifting Hearts, "in which at least one of the love interests is Otherkin/Therian. Any identification of otherkin or therian is accepted. No vampires, p-shifting, or paranormal themes; strictly real world depictions. […] The submission deadline is December 31, 2012."3 To my knowledge, this is the first book of its kind. Personally, I’ve heard rumors that a member of the therianthrope community is writing the preface for it; is there a public post by the person in question to confirm this rumor?

2012-09-05. A multidisciplinary team of scientists (sociologists, anthropologists, and social psychologists) called the Anthropomorphic Research Project (ARP) released results for its surveys of furries, bronies (fans of My Little Pony), and therianthropes.4

2012-09-05. An interview with Patricia Cori, co-author (with Alysa Bartha) of the Sirian Starseed Tarot. In the interview, Cori said she intended the oracle deck as a tool for “starseed awakening,” to assist the “the starseed [extraterrestrial] beings currently incarnated [in human bodies] on the planet, here to assist in the great transition that we all are beginning to recognize is well underway. […] In the generations of children since the 60’s, I believe, many very special souls are coming into the life experience highly conscious, with many gifts. They are starseeds from other planets and systems that are quite possibly more evolved than ours.”5 The starseed community has been active for several decades, but their community remains separate from the otherkin and therianthrope communities.

2012-09-11. Valerie Daval’s art exhibition of paintings inspired by therianthropes, featuring animal-themed reinterpretations of classic paintings. “Therians believe that while they have a human body, some important part of their mind, identity or spirit is that of an animal. […] Therians Dream is a series of portraits about metamorphosis between human and animal form.”6 Caution: the linked page includes artistic nudity.

2012-10. Following the release of Necomimi, the wearable cat-like biofeedback ears by Neurowear, an independent business emerged, called Emoki, offering diverse modifications built upon that hardware. Emoki offers the Necomimi headset, plus their own variety of interchangeable animal ears: bunny, bear, and fox, with more to come soon.7

2012-10. Transhuman week on Wired magazine, featuring the latest experiments and predictions about high-tech enhancement of the human body and mind. Trigger warnings: surgery, physical injuries particularly to eyes and extremities, vivid descriptions and photos thereof.

2012-11-05. Stalking Cat, 54, died. Famous for modifying his body to resemble a tiger, which he called his totem animal, Stalking Cat was active in the furry community,8 but I haven’t found evidence that he was active in the otherkin or therianthrope communities.


- O. Scribner

Sources )

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