There are some astonishing mental disorders affecting people that the general public may never even have heard of. Some of them are strange or unbelievable and seem to be taken right out of a horror movie while a few others are common and experienced by a large number of people who don’t even know they have the condition! I hope you find these mental disorders as intriguing as I do!
1. Capgras Delusion
Of all the mental disorders on this list, this one is the most astonishing to me. Sufferers believe that a family member or close friend has been replaced by an identical copy. They admit that the person looks, acts and speaks like their loved one, but the refuse to believe it actually IS the person. The Capgras delusion usually only affects the sufferer’s perception of a singular person, not everyone they know. For example, a woman may believe her daughter is a replica of her real daughter, but recognizes her husband and other children as being authentic.
Apparent Causes: Paranoid Schizophrenia, Brain Injury, Dementia, Migraine, Diabetes, Neurodegenerative Disease & Hyperthyroidism
2. Exploding Head Syndrome
Exploding Head Syndrome isn’t as gruesome as it sounds, but it certainly is strange! People who suffer from it hear a loud noise, usually an explosion, bang, shouting voices or screams as they drift off to sleep or shortly after dozing off. This sometimes results is sleep paralysis, light hallucinations and fear of falling asleep (understandably)! This syndrome appears to have no ill effects on the body other than issues with falling asleep and testing to determine what is actually happening in the brain has been inconclusive. The onset is sudden and can happen just once or every night. And I thought I had trouble sleeping!
Apparent Causes: Unknown. Though reported as young as 10 years of age, the most common sufferers are over 50.
Synesthesia is a quite common condition (1 in 23 people have it) but most people do not realize that they have it. Seeing specific numbers or letters in color (A is always red, for instance) or hearing a sound when you see movement are both indicators of Synesthesia, which is the involuntary combining of two senses. Most people with this disorder believe it is a blessing, and it just might be! Depending on which of the whopping 60 types of Synesthesia a person has, it can leave them with superior math, art, music and memory skills! My Sister-In-Law recently discovered her Synesthesia while helping her son with homework when she told him to “just add two blues together” and realized he had no idea what she was talking about. This is actually extremely common. While it can be brought on later in life, many people are born with the disorder and simply assume everyone sees, hears, smells, tastes and feels things the way they do because they have never known anything different.
Apparent Causes: The cause is unknown but it is passed down through genetics.
4. Folie À Deux (or Shared Psychiatric Disorder)
Folie à Deux is the term used when two people share the same delusion. This strange occurrence can happen in two different ways. The first is when two people with separate illnesses share their fears, paranoia and visions with each other and ultimately combine them into one. The second happens when one person shares their delusions with an otherwise healthy person and is able to convince them that they are real. In the second situation, separating the two usually results in the healthy person returning to normal.
Apparent Causes: Codependency, Isolation, Little contact with other people
5. Alien Hand Syndrome and Anarchic Hand Syndrome
These two are very similar. In both syndromes, one of the sufferer’s hands does not do what the person wants it to, but instead appears to act of its own free will. It is often disruptive, for instance unzipping a jacket the person had just put on or taking a drink out of the normally functioning hand, pulling the person's hair or pinching them. The hand can perform every day tasks, can grasp, snap, pinch and throw things. The only thing it can’t do is be controlled by the person whose body part it is! I can’t even imagine the stress! The difference between Alien Hand Syndrome and Anarchic Hand Syndrome is that people suffering from Alien HS believe that their hand is controlled by someone or something else or is actually its own entity, often naming it or referring to it as if it were another person. Sufferers of Anarchic HS know that the hand is a part of their body but just can’t seem to control its movements or functions.
Apparent Causes: Brain Injury.
6. Cotard’s Syndrome
This is often called Walking Dead Syndrome because the people who suffer from it believe they have died or no longer exist or in “less extreme” cases simply believe parts of their body don’t exist or that their organs or blood are missing. They deny themselves the basic necessities (food, water and sleep) because the dead don’t need to eat, drink or rest! It is not unheard of for suffers to die of starvation as they cannot be convinced that they need sustenance. Some of them believe they are immortal and cannot die by normal means such as jumping off a building or being hit by a car. This leads to extremely dangerous behavior!
Apparent Causes: Brain Lesions, Psychotic Depression, Schizophrenia
7. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
AIWS is pretty common in children and can last through your 20s and occasionally into your 30s. AIWS is the phenomenon where objects and people seem either much smaller or much larger than they actually are. It can also make time appear to slow down or speed up and can alter your perception of your own movements. If you feel that you are strolling at a leisurely pace you may actually be barely moving or speed walking. The weirdest thing about this syndrome is that eye and brain scans of sufferers appear completely normal. Only the person’s perception is distorted.
Apparent Causes: Migraines, Unknown Factors. If you suffer from AIWS, don’t worry, almost everyone outgrows it with age.
I find the vast number of disorders and syndromes staggering. To think that there are conditions that can make your own body parts rebel against your wishes or to suddenly not recognize yourself or those closest to you must be insanely frightening. I can’t help but be intrigued by the human mind and its effect on who we are after reading the case studies of the people who have experienced these mind-boggling afflictions. What is the strangest condition you have ever heard of?