Remember pixies, elves, and the wee folk of legend? They were generally small, musical characters with playful natures, given to singing and dancing. In the Scandinavian folklore, elves were so musically inspired that they could dance a man to death. Were these diminutive characters originally inspired by real humans who carried a genetic variation, namely a deletion of the elastin gene that produces humans of short stature, elfin features, and intense emotional responses to music?The Examining Room of Dr. Charles has an interesting discussion of the elf-like traits of people with Williams Syndrome. Dr. Charles concludes:
Whether this condition inspired the legends of Nordic, Scandinavian, and English culture that became the "elves" is unclear, but it is an interesting thought. Many other legendary figures have been rooted in human variation, exaggerated and aggrandized for the purpose of story. Or we might be retrofitting this syndrome to the mythical constructs we learned as children.While magical elves are staples in fantasy, perhaps science fiction has a place for people who look and behave like creatures of myth for natural reasons.
Tags:elves, Williams syndrome