“I want adventure in the great wide somewhere! I want it more than I can tell!”
Fairyology Episode 5
Here we go again, another fairy tale with some weird stuff going on inside. Luckily we have science to explain. Let’s get the silly thinking caps on because it’s about to get beasty.
In this episode we turn to the tale as old as time, it is of course Beauty and the beast. As always let me lay down the plot real quick for you.
A prince and his staff were put under a curse from an enchantress because he was arrogant. It turned him into a beast and the only way he could break the spell was to learn to love another in his beast state. He must do this before the last petal fell from an enchanted rose. Ten years later an inventor trespassed on the beasts land and the beast imprisons him. His daughter Belle offers to take her fathers place and promises to stay there forever. Over time they fall in love and when they kiss the beast turns back into a prince (1).
Wait let’s scroll back one second, a man who turned into a beast! Lets break that one down. Could this happen in real life? Well in typical fairyology style I have a few theories!
Theory 1: Hypertrichosis
I’ve written about this condition a while a go when talking about werewolves! As the beast is similar to a werewolf this condition is quite a good theory. Hypertrichosis is a genetic condition where humans grow an abnormal amount of hair. The obvious area being all over the face (2). Many people in the past who have this condition have been a part of freak shows, but if a man who had it also had a lot of money and a big house he might lock himself away just like the beast.
Theory 2: Clinical lycanthropy
This is another condition but instead is one of the psyche. This is a very rare form of delusion where the patient believes they can turn into a werewolf (3). Perhaps the beast was a man all along and when he fell in love with Belle she magically cured his psychosis!
Of course these theories are entirely silly but nevertheless the beauty and the beast is a fantastic story! Hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of fairyology. If you have any tales you’d like me to deconstruct put it in the comments or drop me a tweet over @thatbiologist!
(1) – http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0101414/plotsummary
(2) – Wendelin, D.; Pope, D.; Mallory, S. (2003). “Hypertrichosis”. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 48 (2): 161–179
(3) – Garlipp P, Gödecke-Koch T, Dietrich DE, Haltenhof H (January 2004). “Lycanthropy–psychopathological and psychodynamical aspects”. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 109 (1): 19–22.