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Belgian Woman Thought She Was A Chicken And Temporarily Behaved As One


Chicken | enCA

A 54-year-old woman recently had doctors at KU Leuven University in Belgium baffled when she was convinced she was a chicken and temporarily behaved like one.

The married woman reportedly had a stable job at a pharmacy and had no history of drug or alcohol abuse before the strange episode.

It is gathered that the woman whose identity was not revealed was found by her brother one day when he stopped by. He found her clucking, blowing her cheeks and crowing like a rooster.

He took her to a hospital where she told doctors she thought she was a chicken and described feeling a new sensation in her legs.


The rare episode of zoanthropy – a mental disorder in which one believes oneself to be an animal – ended when the woman suffered a seizure.

After the seizure, she was back to her old self and could not remember acting like a chicken. The doctors’ report mentions that she was embarrassed when her family told her what had happened and why she was in the hospital.

“Clinical zoanthropy, or the conviction of having turned into an animal, is a rare delusion,” KU Leuven researchers wrote. “There are different views about its pathogenesis. This delusion can occur with an underlying psychiatric disorder, but it can also be secondary to structural or functional disorders of the brain.”

In the unidentified woman’s case, her case might have been the result of the depression she was apparently suffering following the loss of a beloved family member, but that condition was prevalent among her other relatives as well.

According to the case study published in the Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie journal, there have been only 56 case descriptions of zoanthropy episodes in medical and historical literature between 1850 and 2012. The limited research on this subject features testimonies of patients who thought they were a dog, lion, tiger, hyena, shark, crocodile, frog, bovine, cat, goose, rhinoceros, rabbit, horse, snake, bird, wild boar, gerbil and a bee.

Symptoms of zoanthropy can reportedly last from one hour to several decades, and cases are more prevalent in rural and non-industrial areas.

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