Many of us are aware of the “usual” suspects when it comes to mental disorders. Anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and even dissociative identity disorder are within our lexicon. This list hopes to open up a world of little know and uniquely individual psychiatric disorders that aren’t spoken of much. For instance, did you know that there is a disorder that causes people to believe loved ones have been replaced by an identical person? Or that people can suffer from the belief that loved ones can change their appearance at will? Keep reading to find out just what these disorders are.
1. Capgras Syndrome, also called Imposter Syndrome
This disorder is characterized by the sufferer’s belief that their loved ones, or those around them, have been replaced by an exact replica. This belief can cause the sufferer to be terrified of those around them. Often times distrusting those who they believe are imposters. Aside from the obvious implications of anxiety and other emotional distress, capgras syndrome appears to be a symptom of other neurological disorders. One study found that roughly 81% of those suffering from capgras syndrome also had a neurodegenerative disorder. The majority of those suffering from Lewy Body Dementia as well.
Apotemnophilia is the overwhelming desire to have one of your limbs amputated. The desire for amputation can be so strong that the sufferer often attempts to amputate the limb themselves. If they can’t accomplish that, they may damage it in such a way as to force professionals to do it for them. This disorder is believed to possibly originate from damage to the parietal lobe. Most sufferers unfortunately don’t seek treatment for this disorder. If they do seek treatment, they might find aversion therapies or cognitive behavioral therapy to be used.
Fregoli syndrome is the exact opposite of capgras syndrome. This syndrome forces the sufferer to believe that everyone around them can change their appearance at will. This can mean that the sufferer disbelieves those around them and distrusts their every move. This delusion can lead them to believe that multiple people are actually the same person essentially playing a mind game with them. Fregoli syndrome has a high comorbidity within those that suffer from schizophrenia. Surprising fact: Capgras syndrome has this comorbidity as well.
4. Cotard Delusion
This is a terrifying delusion in the fact that the sufferer believes they are dead. The sufferer might also believe that they don’t exist, have lost their blood and internal organs, or are already rotting away. For the most part, cotard delusion seems to be attached to psychotic depression and schizophrenia. For the best results it would be imperative to treat the underlying condition as that should affectively rid the suffer of the delusion.
This particular disorder was immortalized in the movie “Idol Hands.” In this film the protagonist looses control of his hand, eventually going so far as to amputate it after it harms his friends. While this might be Hollywood exaggeration, the truth is that those who suffer from alien hand syndrome believe that their hand has a will of its own. One cause of this disorder might be damage to the corpus calossum. Karen Byrne found this out after undergoing surgery to correct severe epilepsy. Her corpus calossum was severed to end the misfires going on between the hemispheres of her brain. Part of her story can be found in this video.
6. Paris Syndrome
For some reason, this disorder only affects Japanese nationals. The phenomenon occurs when those from Japan visit Paris and have a severe mental breakdown shortly after arrival. It appears that this disorder is a form of extreme culture shock. Sufferers have also been found in through France, as well as Spain. The symptoms run from anxiety to depersonalization to hallucinations and cause extreme distress. Those that suffer from Paris syndrome don’t usually appear to have any outlying psychiatric disorders before onset.
This final disorder is very unique in that the sufferer experiences severe panic attacks while gazing at beautiful art. There needs to be a concentration of art, like at a museum or art gallery, but people have also experienced this while out in nature. It appears that the sufferer is just overcome but the beauty around them and it manifests within a psychiatric realm. There are no treatments aside from supportive measures and this disorder doesn’t seem to have any long lasting implications.
Do you know of any unique psychiatric disorders that weren’t on the list? Please share them in the comments below.
Hussung, Tricia. “5 Rare Mental Disorders You Probably Haven’t Heard Of.” Concordia University, St. Paul, Concordia University St. Paul, 28 Oct. 2016, online.csp.edu/blog/psychology/5-rare-mental-disorders. Received December 6, 2017
Josephs, K A. “Capgras Syndrome and Its Relationship to Neurodegenerative Disease.” Archives of Neurology., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Dec. 2007, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18071040. Retrieved December 6, 2017
Mojtabai , Ramin. “Fregoli Syndrome.” Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 1 Sept. 1994, journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.3109/00048679409075874. Retrieved December 6, 2017
Stetka, Bret S, and Christoph U Correll. “Rare and Unusual Psychiatric Syndromes.” Medscape , WebMD, 26 June 2014, www.medscape.com/features/slideshow/rare-psych#14. Retrieved December 6, 2017