Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Top 10 Bizarre Mental Disorders

I have had the WORST week you can imagine: I'm being weaned off meds, having other meds increased, my friend's father passed away, my grandmother got turned down by a home ( "she's too crazy for us"), I got stung by a bee (I'm allergic) and I have had some people be incredibly mean to me. It really has been the horrible. The perfect conditions for WRITER'S BLOCK.

Anyway I still want to keep this blog regularly updated while I am sorting out the mess that is my life but being unable to write at the moment I thought I would share something I came across on Listverse : It may not be appros to say this reading this actually made me grateful for just being afflicted with a mainstream mental disorder.

Top 10 Bizarre Mental Disorders

1. Reduplicative Paramnesia  (Stephi: We have had episodes of this with my grandmother)

Reduplicative paramnesia is the delusional belief that a place or location has been duplicated, existing in two or more places simultaneously, or that it has been ‘relocated’ to another site. For example, a person may believe that they are in fact not in the hospital to which they were admitted, but an identical-looking hospital in a different part of the country, despite this being obviously false, as one case study reported:

A few days after admission to the Neurobehavioural Center, orientation for time was intact, he could give details of the accident (as related to him by others), could remember his doctors’ names and could learn new information and retain it indefinitely. He exhibited, however, a distinct abnormality of orientation for place. While he quickly learned and remembered that he was at the Jamaica Plain Veterans Hospital (also known as the Boston Veterans Administration Hospital), he insisted that the hospital was located in Taunton, Massachusetts, his home town. Under close questioning, he acknowledged that Jamaica Plain was part of Boston and admitted it would be strange for there to be two Jamaica Plain Veterans Hospitals. Nonetheless, he insisted that he was presently hospitalized in a branch of the Jamaica Plain Veterans Hospital located in Taunton. At one time he stated that the hospital was located in the spare bedroom of his house.

The term ‘reduplicative paramnesia’ was first used in 1903 by the Czechoslovakian neurologist Arnold Pick to describe a condition in a patient with suspected Alzheimer’s disease who insisted that she had been moved from Pick’s city clinic, to one she claimed looked identical but was in a familiar suburb. To explain the discrepancy she further claimed that Pick and the medical staff worked at both locations.

2. Cotard Delusion  (Stephi: This one is just awful!!)

The Cotard delusion is a rare psychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that he or she is dead, does not exist, is putrefying or has lost their blood or internal organs. Rarely, it can include delusions of immortality.

One case study said the following:

[The patient's] symptoms occurred in the context of more general feelings of unreality and being dead. In January, 1990, after his discharge from hospital in Edinburgh, his mother took him to South Africa. He was convinced that he had been taken to hell (which was confirmed by the heat), and that he had died of septicaemia (which had been a risk early in his recovery), or perhaps from AIDS (he had read a story in The Scotsman about someone with AIDS who died from septicaemia), or from an overdose of a yellow fever injection. He thought he had “borrowed my mother’s spirit to show me round hell”, and that he was asleep in Scotland.

It is named after Jules Cotard, a French neurologist who first described the condition, which he called “le délire de négation” (“negation delirium”), in a lecture in Paris in 1880.

3. Fregoli Delusion

The exact opposite of the Capgras delusion – the Fregoli delusion is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise.

The condition is named after the Italian actor Leopoldo Fregoli who was renowned for his ability to make quick changes of appearance during his stage act.

It was first reported 1927 by two psychiatrists who discussed the case study of a 27 year old woman who believed that she was being persecuted by two actors whom she often went to see at the theatre. She believed that these people “pursued her closely, taking the form of people she knows or meets.”

4. Capgras Delusion

The Capgras delusion is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that an acquaintance, usually a spouse or other close family member, has been replaced by an identical looking impostor.

It is most common in patients with schizophrenia, although it occur in those with dementia, or after a brain injury.

One case report said the following:

Mrs. D, a 74-year old married housewife, recently discharged from a local hospital after her first psychiatric admission, presented to our facility for a second opinion. At the time of her admission earlier in the year, she had received the diagnosis of atypical psychosis because of her belief that her husband had been replaced by another unrelated man. She refused to sleep with the impostor, locked her bedroom and door at night, asked her son for a gun, and finally fought with the police when attempts were made to hospitalize her. At times she believed her husband was her long deceased father. She easily recognized other family members and would misidentify her husband only.

The paranoia induced by this condition has made it a common tool in science fiction books and films, such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Total Recall and The Stepford Wives.

5. Jerusalem Syndrome

The Jerusalem syndrome is the name given to a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by, or lead to, a visit to the city of Jerusalem. It is not endemic to one single religion or denomination, but has affected Jews and Christians of many different backgrounds.

The condition seems to emerge while in Jerusalem and causes psychotic delusions which tend to dissipate after a few weeks. Of all the people who have suffered this spontaneous psychosis, all have had a history of previous mental illness, or where deemed not to have been ‘well’ before coming to the city.

6. Stendhal Syndrome

Stendhal Syndrome is a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly ‘beautiful’ or a large amount of art is in a single place. The term can also be used to describe a similar reaction to a surfeit of choice in other circumstances, e.g. when confronted with immense beauty in the natural world.

It is named after the famous 19th century French author Stendhal who described his experience with the phenomenon during his 1817 visit to Florence, Italy in his book Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio.

7. Paris Syndrome

Paris syndrome is a condition exclusive to Japanese tourists and nationals, which causes them to have a mental breakdown while in the famous city. Of the millions of Japanese tourists that visit the city every year, around a dozen suffer this illness and have to be returned to their home country.

The condition is basically a severe form of ‘culture shock’. Polite Japanese tourists who come to the city are unable to separate their idyllic view of the city, seen in such films as Amelie, with the reality of a modern, bustling metropolis.

Japanese tourists who come into contact with, say, a rude French waiter, will be unable to argue back and be forced to bottle up their own anger which eventually leads to a full mental breakdown.

The Japanese embassy has a 24hr hotline for tourists suffering for severe culture shock, and can provide emergency hospital treatment if necessary.

8. Diogenes Syndrome

Diogenes was an ancient Greek philosopher, who lived in a wine barrel and promoted ideas of nihilism and animalism. Famously, when he was asked by Alexander the Great what he wanted most in the world, he replied, “For you to get out of my sunlight!”

Diogenes syndrome is a condition characterised by extreme self neglect, reclusive tendencies, and compulsive hoarding, sometimes of animals. It is found mainly in old people and is associated with senile breakdown.

The syndrome is actually a misnomer since Diogenes lived an ascetic and transient life, and there are no sources to indicate that he neglected is own hygiene.

9. Lima Syndrome

The exact opposite of Stockholm syndrome – this is where the hostage takers become more sympathetic to the plights and needs of the hostages.

It is named after the Japanese embassy hostage crisis in Lima, Peru where 14 members of the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) took hundreds of people hostage at a party at the official residence of Japan’s ambassador to Peru. The hostages consisted of diplomats, government and military officials, and business executives of many nationalities who happened to be at the party at the time. It began on December 17, 1996 and ended on April 22, 1997.

Within a few days of the hostage crisis, the militants had released most of the captives, with seeming disregard for their importance, including the future President of Peru, and the mother of the current President.

After months of unsuccessful negotiations, all remaining hostages were freed by a raid by Peruvian commandos, although one hostage was killed.

10. Stockholm Syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage, in which the hostage shows signs of sympathy, loyalty or even voluntary compliance with the hostage taker, regardless of the risk in which the hostage has been placed. The syndrome is also discussed in other cases, including those of wife-beating, rape and child abuse.

The syndrome is named after a bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28 in 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal, refusing to testify against them. Later, after the gang were tried and sentenced to jail, one of them married a woman who had been his hostage.

A famous example of Stockholm syndrome is the story of Patty Hearst, a millionaire’s daughter who was kidnapped in 1974, seemed to develop sympathy with her captors, and later took part in a robbery they were orchestrating.

Sources: http://listverse.com/2007/10/13/top-10-bizarre-mental-disorders/

Be sure to check out part 2 of their list of bizarre mental disorders.


  1. This post reminds me of the movie What About Bob? There's a scene where Bob and the boy fake Tourette's Syndrome. By faking it they can prove they don't have it. This brings Bob great joy because it's something that isn't wrong with him.

    Fun idea for a post. Sorry about the mean people. They suck.

  2. Ahhh, Stephi, I am in the same boat with you about my med.'s, it makes everything so much harder to deal with. And how could anyone be mean to you? You have one of the most generous and loving spirits I know of. And this definitely won't stop your body from reacting to a bee sting, but I know people who are allergic like you with bee stings and always carry the homeopathic tablets "Apis" around with them, which kind of counteract a sting. I hope your family finds just the right place for your grandmother, it's so sad when someone is deemed too "crazy" for a place. Here we have mental hospitals closed down left and right, leaving all these poor mentally unwell people homeless, it makes me so angry. I have a very dark sense of humour and while those top mental disorders are horribly sad, I had to laugh at them. Not AT the people who suffer from them, but as I said, I'm kind of whacked with what I find funny. You know what would be "fun" is for you and I to come up with our own mental disorders that "normal" people have and then blog them. Humour is so incredibly important in life, esp. when there's so much suffering out there. Hugs to you.

  3. Hi Robin, I haven't seen that movie, although a few years ago I saw a short documentary on how easily people can fake mental illness. The aim of the program was to demonstrate how easy it was to get doctors were to perscribe medication such as sedatives. It was scary!

  4. Hey Wendy! I know you've had a struggle with meds so I knew would understand. As for the bee sting I have always found wiping the sting with vinegar as soon as possible helps.

    Like you said these disorders, are funny - in a dark sort of way. Paris Syndrome really had me going.

    Making up a mental disorder- it seems so easy now days as EVERYTHING can be classified as a disorder. How about "Shoutalot Syndrome" classified by the uncontralable urge to shout...all the time. I can think of a few family members that might have this.

  5. LOL...Stephi, I love the "shoutalot syndrome" good one...I'll have to think of one too, but you had me laughing early in the morning as I read this ;)

  6. Ha! glad I made you laugh. Hey! tune in tomorrow I have something exciting to share:)

  7. I trust that you didn't go into anaphylactic shock after your bee sting, or else you wouldn't be here to talk about it, or you would have devoted an entire blog post to it.

  8. P.S. As to what Stephi said about vinegar, a paste made of snuff or ground up smoking tobacco is also good, as is meat tenderizer.

  9. Snowbrush- I was stung by a bee when I was 4 and started going into anaphylatic shock and had to be rushed to hospital, I don't remember much except that I couldn't breathe. It's the first time I have been stung by a bee since then. I also used to be severely allergic to cats....

    The idea about ground tobacco sounds interesting, unfortunately my Dad no longer smokes a pipe...

  10. I would strongly suggest that you be tested for bee sting allergies because if you are allergic, you need to carry a shot of epinephrine when you are outdoors because in you go into shock, the odds of you making it to a hospital without one are not good. My wife had an allergic reaction while in a doctor's office (following an injection), and even that was damn scary. Since your one reaction was all those years ago, and since people do sometimes grow out of allergies, and since you didn't reaction similarly to this sting, you might not be allergic, but if were you, I would sure want to know.

  11. Snow- I have a neurological illness that I have to get regular check ups for. I'm seeing specialist on the 16th and they will be doing all types of tests, one of the tests that I requested was an allergy test. I don't think many people realise the power that severe allergies can hold over a person, both physically and psychologically.

    Probably a good idea to since my Dad keeps beehives at the bottom of our garden....

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