This Psychological Disorder Makes People Think They Are Cows

Boanthropy is a psychological disorder which causes people to genuinely believe they are a bovine, specifically a cow or an ox. Symptoms can manifest to such an extent that the individual may mimic bovine behavior, for example, walking on all fours and consuming grass.

The etymology of the term ‘boanthropy’ is rooted in the Greek words ‘bos,’ meaning ‘cow,’ and ‘Anthropos,’ meaning ‘human.’ Although the condition is still not entirely understood, psychologists tend to group boanthropy, along with other forms of zoanthropy, under the broader diagnosis of Clinical Lycanthropy. Common conditions found in patients with boanthropy include schizophrenia, psychotic depression, and bipolar disorder.

The historical cases of boanthropy provide fascinating insights. One of the most famous sufferers of boanthropy was King Nebuchadnezzar II, the ruler of the Neo-Babylonian Empire from 605BC to 562BC. The Book of Daniel in the Bible narrates his story: “He was driven from men and did eat grass as oxen.” Nebuchadnezzar, after boasting about his achievements, was humbled by God, losing his sanity and living like an animal for seven years.

Another notable historical account involves the Buyid prince Majd al-Dawla, who suffered from the delusion that he was a cow. His behavior included mimicking the sounds of a cow and requesting to be killed so his flesh could be consumed. This case was particularly remarkable as he was eventually cured by the renowned Persian physician Avicenna.

Contemporary instances of boanthropy still exist, with individuals in a delusional state believing themselves to be an ox or cow and attempting to live and behave accordingly. Hypnotism, suggestion, and auto-suggestion have been proposed as potential factors contributing to such beliefs. Dreams also may play a critical role.

While the exact cause of boanthropy is not yet known, it is generally agreed that the condition is most likely a manifestation of mental illness. In many cases, afflicted individuals may hear voices telling them they are a cow, or may have visual hallucinations that corroborate their bovine identity.

Boanthropy serves as a stark reminder of the extraordinary power of the human mind and the wide array of ways in which it can interpret reality. This psychological disorder, while rare, underscores the complexities inherent in the human psychological experience and the ongoing necessity for exploration and understanding within the field of mental health.

Written by Editorial Team

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