In the Mel Brooks classic, Young Frankenstein, the following gem of dialogue takes place:
Dr. Frankenstein: Werewolf?
Dr. Frankenstein: What?
Igor: There, wolf. There, castle.
Dr. Frankenstein: Why are you talking that way?
Igor: I thought you wanted to.
Dr. Frankenstein: No, I don’t want to!
Igor: Suit yourself. I’m easy.
It made me laugh the first time I saw it in the theater. I still laugh when I see that scene today. But in light of my recent tics, I have to wonder if at least some part of the werewolf mythology comes from Tourette’s Syndrome.
For several years now I’ve had a tic in which one or both of my arms will curl up (or rather slam up) against my chest, with my hand held like a claw. More recently I’ve added a combined motor/vocal tic in which I’ll growl like a dog and bare my teeth. Put it all together and…
Ok, so maybe a were-Chihuahua. But you get the idea!
To be fair it doesn’t answer all aspects of the myth. Among other things, Tourette’s Syndrome isn’t contagious, not even with a bite. Nor has anyone found a pattern with the phase of the moon. A more likely theory for the former would be rabies. I don’t really have a good working theory for the bit about the full moon.
Speculation like this is frivolous at best. There’s no way to go back in time now and find out, and diagnosing historical figures from our comfortable armchairs is about as accurate as it sounds. But it sure is fun to think about!