The origins of the werewolf (or lycanthrope) remain unclear, with some scholars citing The Epic of Gilgamesh as the earliest reference when Gilgamesh jilted a potential lover because she had turned her previous mate into a wolf. Others contend its origin lies in Greek mythology with the legend of Lycaon, a king and son of Pelasgus who angered the god Zeus by serving him a dish made from remains of a sacrificed boy. As punishment, Zeus transformed Lycaon and his sons into wolves.
Many legends associate the shape shifting into a wolf as a curse, with many stories involving being scratched and turning when the moon is full. Other stories attribute their transformation with the help of an enchanted sash or a cloak made of wolf pelt. Many scholars today believe that there are two explanations for this phenomenon. One being that the people being accused, or claiming themselves, to be werewolves were mentally ill, acted under the influence of a hallucinogenic substance or were simply cold-blooded killers.
The other has a more medical explanation, the first being hypertrichosis, a rare, genetic disorder causing excessive hair growth. Another is a rare, psychological condition called lycanthropy which sufferers believe they’re changing into a wolf or other animal. The last being Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, a condition discovered in 1978 that causes lack of speech, seizures, distinct facial features, difficulty breathing and intellectual challenges. Whatever the cause, people still claim to see werewolves even today.
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