Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Cynanthropy - A Dog's Life

Some kind of anthropomorphic super-dog thing. It seemed appropriate.
(photo from Pixabay)


Noun. Rare. Late 16th century.
[French cynanthropie (after lycanthropie lycanthropy) from Greek kun-, kuon dog.]

A form of madness in which a person believes himself or herself to be a dog and behaves accordingly.
Here's a word you're probably (hopefully) never going to need - cynanthropy, pronounced sy-nan-throp-ee, the belief that you are a dog. And, yes, it's real, being one manifestation of various psychological conditions such as belief in therianthropy (the ability to shapeshift between human and animal form), clinical lycanthropy (the belief that you have such an ability or are currently undergoing such a transformation), and species dysmorphia (the belief that you are a different species trapped in a human body).

Take Boomer, for example, whose human name is Gary Matthews. At 47, he likes nothing more than roaming the neighbourhood, barking at cars, and napping in his kennel. And yes, he eats dog food. He says he experienced the transformation on a hot day in 1979 when he went down into his basement and stretched out on the floor to cool down. Ever since then, he has been living the dog's life. As to whether he actually believes he's a dog, he stated on the Dr Phil show that "he has to believe" that somehow he is at least part-dog. You can decide yourself at what point an extreme fascination turns into full-blown cynanthropy.

Note: For more doggy weirdness, see the canophilist post by clicking here

Do please leave any comments in the box below.


  1. The origin of "barking mad"?

    1. I don't think so, Dave, at least not directly.

      I actually wondered the same and looked it up as I was researching this post, and 'barking mad' seems to be a modern expression, whereas the word 'cynanthropy' is pretty old. It also doesn't seem to have originated with a mental asylum in Barking, London, another etymology floating around on the internet.

      Basically, it just seems to come from the idea that, sometimes, mad people bark. In that sense, although it hasn't come from the word, 'barking mad' might be connected with the phenomenon of cynanthropy.

  2. I wonder what he sees when he looks in a mirror. Is it a dog looking back at him? Or is it a man who is looking back at a dog?

    There is the strange case of the Mirror Man who, when he looks in a mirror, he sees another person who looks like himself; dresses like himself, and mimics everything he does, follows him wherever he goes, but is not him. If his wife stands next to him, the reflection in the mirror is still his wife, but standing next to an imposter.

    This is true, by the way, from a recent book I read by a Professor of Psychology.

    1. This reminds me of something really weird called a 'negative autoscopy', which is a psychological condition which renders you incapable of seeing your own reflection in the mirror. I wrote about it in one of my early posts - you can read about it by clicking here.

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