Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Correlation Between the Full Moon and Lunacy

Fact or Fiction?

Psychiatric hospital admissions and crimes increase during full moons.

While many people believe this phenomenon to be true, there is no scientific proof that the full moon affects anyone in a negative manner. The idea that the full moon affects people has been used throughout history to explain away bad or strange behavior. The very word lunatic is derived from the name of the Roman moon goddess, Luna. Greek and Roman philosophers “suggested that the brain was the “moistest” organ in the body, and thereby most susceptible to the pernicious influences of the moon” (Lilienfeld and Arkowitz, 2009, para 1). This has been proven incorrect for many reasons. One reason is the fact that the moon’s gravitational pull affects only open bodies of water, and another reason being that the moon’s gravitational pull is the same for new moon as it is for a full moon. The belief of the full moon’s influence continued during the Middle Ages. During that time it was known as the lunar lunacy effect or the Transylvania effect.

One of the only possible explanations to the origin of this belief (urban legend) may be that the brightness of the full moon affected the sleep patterns of people who mainly lived outdoors. Lack of sleep affects people’s behavior especially those with preexisting psychological disorders, causing them to possibly act in a bizarre or erratic manner (Lilienfeld et al, 2009).

 These beliefs are still alive and well in the modern world. However, the results of many studies to date have found no correlation between the full moon and the erratic behavior in humans. It seems the misconception may be related to the preconceived notions based on knowledge of what is no more than an urban legend.


Lilienfeld, S.O., & Arkowitz, H. (2009, February 09). Lunacy and the Full Moon. Retrieved from