Mental disorders are conditions that affect the way people think, feel, and behave. Some are very common, like depression and anxiety, while others are rare and may seem strange. Here, we’ll be exploring some in the latter category.
1. Alice-in-Wonderland Syndrome
Alice-in-Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) is a neurological condition that causes distortions in perception, like seeing objects or body parts as larger or smaller than they really are. The name comes from the novel by Lewis Carroll, in which the protagonist Alice experiences similar changes in size and shape. People with AIWS may also have other symptoms, such as hallucinations, time distortions, or a loss of sense of reality.
Erotomania is a delusional disorder that makes people believe that someone else, usually a famous or high-status person, is in love with them. They may interpret any gesture or communication from the object of their obsession as a sign of mutual affection, and may persist in their belief even when faced with evidence to the contrary. Erotomania can lead to stalking, harassment or violence.
Celebriphilia is an obsessive sexual desire for a celebrity. Unlike erotomania, people with celebriphilia don’t necessarily believe the celebrity loves them back, but they may fantasize about having a romantic or erotic relationship with them. Celebriphilia can interfere with normal functioning and social relationships, and may cause distress or frustration.
4. Cotard’s Syndrome
Cotard’s syndrome, also known as walking corpse syndrome, is a rare condition that makes people believe that they are dead, or that they have lost some vital organs or body parts. They may deny their own existence, neglect their hygiene and health, or attempt suicide. Cotard’s syndrome is often associated with severe depression, schizophrenia or brain injury.
5. Lima Syndrome
Lima syndrome is the opposite of Stockholm syndrome, which is when hostages develop positive feelings for their captors. Lima syndrome is when kidnappers develop sympathy or empathy for their hostages, and may release them or treat them better as a result. The name comes from a hostage crisis in Lima, Peru, in 1996, where several members of a militant group freed their captives after bonding with them.
6. Capgras Delusion
Capgras delusion is a disorder that makes people think that someone they know, usually a close relative or friend, has been replaced by an identical impostor. They may accuse the impostor of trying to deceive them or harm them, and may become hostile or paranoid. Capgras delusion is often caused by brain damage, dementia or schizophrenia.
7. Khyâl Cap
Khyâl cap, or wind attacks, is a cultural syndrome that affects Cambodians. It involves sudden episodes of panic and anxiety, accompanied by physical symptoms such as dizziness, palpitations, shortness of breath and cold extremities. People with khyâl cap believe that a wind-like substance rises in their body and blood, causing various problems. They may also fear death from bodily dysfunction.
Kufungisisa, or thinking too much, is another cultural syndrome that affects the Shona people of Zimbabwe. It involves excessive worrying and rumination about personal or social issues, resulting in psychological and physical distress. People with kufungisisa may complain of headaches, dizziness, chest pain or heart problems. They may also attribute their condition to interpersonal or spiritual conflicts.
9. Clinical Lycanthropy
Clinical lycanthropy is a rare delusion that makes people believe they can transform into an animal, usually a wolf or a werewolf. They may act like an animal, growl, bite, or crawl on all fours. They may also have hallucinations of seeing themselves or others as animals. Clinical lycanthropy is often linked to psychosis, bipolar disorder or substance abuse.
Boanthropy is another form of delusion that makes people think that they are cows or bulls. They may adopt bovine behaviors such as grazing on grass, mooing, or walking on all fours. They may also join herds of cattle and follow their movements. Boanthropy is very rare and its causes are unknown. Some historical cases have been attributed to religious beliefs or hypnosis. Read more about boanthropy here.
11. Koro Syndrome
This culture-bound delusional disorder makes people believe their genitals are retracting and will disappear, leading to fear of death or impotence. It is most common among Asian men, especially those from China, Malaysia and Singapore. It may be triggered by stress, guilt or sexual anxiety. Some possible treatments include reassurance, psychotherapy and medication. Read more about koro syndrome here.
12. Paris Syndrome
Paris syndrome is a sense of extreme disappointment and shock experienced by tourists who visit Paris and come to realize it isn’t all that great. It’s characterized by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, hallucinations, anxiety and heart palpitations. It’s more prevalent among Japanese visitors who may have a romanticized image of Paris influenced by media and cultural differences. It can be prevented by having realistic expectations, learning about the culture and language, and maybe just not going. Read more about Paris Syndrome here.
13. Klüver-Bucy Syndrome
This rare brain disorder causes memory loss and behavioral problems. It results from damage to the temporal lobes of the brain, which are involved in memory, emotion and sensory processing. People with this condition may exhibit symptoms such as putting objects in their mouths, eating nonfood items, having an increased sex drive, losing fear and anger responses, and having difficulty recognizing objects or faces. It can be caused by brain injury, infection, tumor, or degenerative disease. It can be treated with medication, surgery or therapy.
These are just some of the most bizarre and rare mental disorders out there. They show how complex and mysterious the human mind can be, and how it can create different realities for different people. If you or someone you know suffers from any of these conditions, please seek professional help as soon as possible.