Via: The Australian
WEREWOLVES belong in fiction, but researchers have demonstrated an eerie spike in very violent behaviour during the full moon.
Australian experts looked at the cases of 91 patients who presented for treatment at the emergency department of Calvary Mater Hospital in Newcastle, NSW, all of whom were so violent they needed to be sedated or physically restrained to prevent them harming staff or themselves.
Of these 91 who were seen over a 12-month period, they found that 21 (23 per cent) presented when the moon was full – about double the number of cases seen during any of the other seven lunar phases.
A comparison group, comprising existing patients at the hospital for whom security officers were called to deal with their less-severe behavioural problems, showed no such correlation with the moon’s cycle.
The study’s authors, from the Calvary Mater Newcastle and the University of Newcastle, suggested their findings showed that behavioural changes linked to the lunar cycle were apparent only in patients with more severe forms of behaviour problems. Much previous research had focused on less challenging patients.
Clinical nurse specialist Leonie Calber, lead author of the study published today in the Medical Journal of Australia, said previous explanations for a lunar effect included the idea that as the human body contained 70 per cent water, the moon’s gravity might exert a quasi-tidal effect on the brain.
Another possibility was that as nights of full moon were brighter, some people suffered sleep disturbance or deprivation that might trigger manic episodes.
Neither theory explained the link to violence, she said.
Instead, it was possible that people were more likely to drink alcohol or take drugs during a full moon, which might lead to increased instances of violence and delirium.
“Some of these patients attacked the staff like animals — biting, spitting and scratching — and one might compare them with werewolves of the past, who are said to have also appeared during the full moon,” she wrote.