"Another term lycanthrope, often used to describes werewolves, however, refers to someone who suffers from a mental disease of fantasising being a wolf. This particular mental disorder is termed lycanthropy."
Arsenius Jigger, The Essential Defence Against the Dark Arts[src]

Lycanthropy is the state in which a werewolf finds him or herself: that of turning into a fearsome and deadly near-wolf. Muggles are far less likely to be infected by lycanthropy, as the wounds have a higher fatality rate. To date, there is no cure for lycanthropy. Lycanthropy is a deeply feared and despised condition, as tragic tales were told that victims begged to be allowed to die rather than becoming werewolves.

The term is often used to describe actual werewolves, but some authors, like Arsenius Jigger in his work The Essential Defence Against the Dark Arts, assert that its correct use is of describing a mental disease of fantasising being a wolf and, thus, prefer the term werewolfry, when referring to the condition of being a werewolf.[1]

Behind the scenes

  • J. K. Rowling has stated that she used lycanthropy as a metaphor for HIV in the Harry Potter novels.[2] This statement was repeated in material provided for Pottermore Presents, leading some sources to report it as if was new information. In response, Rowling posted a series of scathing Twitter messages pointing out that "at a conservative estimate, 90% of ‘revelations’ that keep cropping up about Potter characters are recycled from years ago."[3]


Notes and references