Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bark at the Moon

The moon has been regarded with extreme superstition that predates written history. Myths about increased aggression, schizophrenia, and even lupine transformations have been associated with the moon's changing phases throughout the ages. While the origins of these superstitions are ambiguous at best, their consistency only adds to society's belief in them.

Aside from the more deeply-rooted (and furrier) science-fiction aspects of lunar influences, it is commonly believed that phases of the moon can trigger psychological changes in human beings. Aggression is chief among these changes, but other mood swings, including depression and even celebratory happiness, have been associated with the moon.

What validity do these claims have? There have been studies that both support and dismiss the possibility of lunar effect in humans. One such study suggested that schizophrenic patients showed signs of further mental deterioration during a full moon. In 2004, a study showed a higher frequency in hospital admissions due to gastrointestinal bleeding when the moon was full. Other studies, however, showed no distinct correlation between the moon and any type of abnormal activity. In fact, many researchers dismiss studies that support the theory, claiming any correlations to be happenstance and based on other circumstances.

As a criminal justice major, I'd be lying if I said this was the first time I've come across anything relating a full moon to unwieldy behavior. Many police departments, in fact, are more superstitious than you might think when it comes to this subject. Higher rates of violent crimes, arrests, and inmate restlessness during a full moon have been reported from within the criminal justice field. The belief has even led to some departments deploying more officers to patrol the streets on nights when the moon is full.

Far more often than not, research has shown that these claims are completely unfounded. Folklore and tradition, coupled with the modern myths of today, lead many to question the world around them, and the moon is at the forefront of that skepticism. Backed by popular media aspects, such as last year's remake of The Wolfman, myths about the effects of a full moon show no signs of stopping, regardless of what science tells us. For many, science-fiction is just more fun to believe than science fact.


1 comment:

  1. I just wanted to comment and tell a funny story that happened because of this post. My little sister and I were cooking dinner today and I was telling her about the effect the full moon has on people. She replied, "Yea it makes them go crazy because the moon pulls on their heads!" Figured her ridiculousness should be shared with the internet. This is really interesting though, as a forensic psychology major i have come across this before. Personally I do not believe the full moon has any effect in our lives other then the changing of the tides.