Wolfmen, werewolves, Lycans: just a legend?


Werewolves? They do not exist, they cannot exist, it is only Hollywood that finds it useful to make believe that they exist. Or not? Indeed, myths and legends relating to animal men are present in many different cultures.

Native Americans have various legends of bear men and fox men, some Norwegian tales include beings that look human but who were covered in fur and lived in caves, hunting unwary wayfarers in the forests at night.


The one who took very seriously the werewolves was the Church: with the Inquisition, these beings were officially included in the lists of demonic beings. If Switzerland holds the distinction of being the first country to carry out the execution of an alleged werewolf, in 1407 it was then France, between 1520 and 1630, that gave much work to the executioner, sending to death about 30 thousand alleged wolfmen.

The persecution by the Inquisition of these "beings” also originated in France, in Poligny, when, after being tortured, three men admitted that they had carnally joined a wolf woman to obtain the strength necessary to transform into animals and kill several children. The three were obviously burned alive at the stake.

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The case of Gilles Garnier, a hermit who later married but apparently unable to provide for others who, who died on January 18, 1573, known as the “werewolf of Dole”, particularly caused a sensation.

After the discovery of the corpses of various children, consent was given by the authorities to anyone to search for and kill the responsible werewolf. One evening a group of people from a town near Dole came across what in the uncertain light of the torches seemed to be a wolf that for some others was only Garnier with the lifeless body of another child.

Arrested, Garnier confessed under torture that he followed and killed at least four children between 9 and 12 years of age. Garnier was found guilty of “lycanthropy” and “witchcraft”. Unlike vampires, werewolves were believed not to become so as a result of the bite of another werewolf (although it is seen in many Hollywood films), but because of an act of black magic. Sentenced to death Garnier was burned alive on the stake and his ashes scattered.


Nowadays science treats “lycanthropy” by recognizing it as a mental disorder. A famous case was that, presented in 1977 in the American Journal of Psychiatry by Harvey Rosenstock and Kenneth Vincent, of a wolf woman who howled at every full moon acquiring animal attitudes.

After a long therapy based on antipsychotic drugs, the woman was discharged, but many witnesses claimed to have subsequently seen her wandering, always on full moon nights, inside cemeteries. In short, to be a legend that of wolfmen has so far caused many deaths and problems. Could it be that by scratching away the most imaginative part, there is a fund of truth in the stories about werewolves and wolfmen?

Tags: Myths, Health, Catholic Church, legends