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5 Strangest Mental Disorders

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The editors at Psych Degrees decided to research the topic of:

5 Strangest Mental Disorders

A mental or bodily condition marked primarily by sufficient disorganization of personality, mind, and emotions to seriously impair the normal psychological functioning of the individual

Going Mental
- An estimated 1 in 5 Americans have a mental disorder
- Women are more likely to be diagnosed than men
- 23% of women
- 16.9% of men
- Mental illness is more than 2x as likely in ages 18-25 than in adults 50+
- Serious mental illness is defined by moderate - extreme impairment of 1-4 of the following:
- Feeling/Mood
- Thinking
- Family
- Role performance
- Socio-legal
- Self Care/Basic needs
- 2011: About 11.4m adult Americans suffered from serious mental illness (also what is considered "serious" mental illness?)
- 8.7m admitted to thoughts of suicide
- 2m of them made suicide plans
- 1m of them attempted suicide
- About 60% of those will mental illness receive treatment Five of the Strangest Mental Illnesses

Cotard's Syndrome - AKA "Walking Corpse Syndrome"

- A mental disorder causing the sufferer to think
- they are dead
- all of their blood and organs have been removed
- their soul has been removed
- First described by Dr. Jules Cotard in 1882
- Cotard's has been reported in patients with
- mood disorders
- psychotic disorders
- medical conditions
- Most Cotard's cases are more responsive to ECT (electroconvulsive treatment) than to medication
- Cotard's signifies a disconnect between two areas of the brain
- The area that recognizes faces
- The area that is able to associate emotions with facial recognition
- Sufferers may not recognize their own face
- Part of the brain: Fusiform Gyrus Region & Temporal Lobe


- An anomalous blending of the senses
- stimulation of one modality simultaneously causes sensation in a different modality
- Synesthetes hear colors, feel sounds and taste shapes
- Synesthetic sensations are highly consistent
- This differentiates them from drug-induced hallucinations
- Examples of consistencies for many synesthetes:
- the note F is often a reddish shade of rust
- a 3 is usually pink
- the word truck is usually blue
- Synesthetes often have unusually good memory for
- phone numbers
- security codes
- anatomical terminology
- Because digits, letters and syllables take on unique colors
- They make make computational errors because 6 and 8 have the same color
- 3x as many US women as men have Synesthesia
- 8x as many women as men in the UK (reason unknown)
- Part of the brain: Limbic system

Windigo Psychosis

- A disorder involving an insatiable craving for human flesh, coupled with the fear of becoming a cannibal.
- Windigo Psychosis is a cultural phenomenon of the Algonquians of Northern Canada
- Research suggests Windigo Psychosis occurs due to
- Environment
- Northeastern Canadian woodlands
- Extremely cold winters
- Cultural conditions
- Cultural fear of the Wendigo (a cannibalistic monster who takes possession of humans)
- Cultural fear of cannibalism
- Diet and nutrition
- People suffer from Windigo Psychosis during periods of famine
- Many cannibals have been found to suffer from schizophrenia
- Consumption of humans can result in Kuru (the human equivalent of Mad Cow disease)
- Part of the brain: (Most likely) Temporal and Frontal Lobe

Capgras Syndrome

- A rare delusion in which a person falsely believes their loved one has been replaced by a duplicate impostor
- Named after French psychiatrist, Joseph Capgras
- He first described the disorder in 1929
- A female patient complained that her husband had been replaced by a corresponding double
- Capgras is an unusual form of displacement
- the sufferer rejects a loved when when negative feelings arise
- They cannot allow themselves to be conscious of their rejection
- The negative feelings are passed to a double
- an impostor who can be safely rejected
- Part of the brain: Fusiform Gyrus Region & Temporal Lobe

Alien Hand Syndrome

- A neurological disorder in which one hand functions involuntarily with the victim completely unaware its actions
- Symptoms include
- involuntary reaching or grasping
- touching the face
- tearing at clothing
- More extreme cases include
- involuntarily stuffing food into the mouth
- preventing the normal hand from completely tasks
- self inflicted punching or choking
- Sufferers often experience embarrassment or are put in harm's way due to the renegade limb
- AHS was first identified in 1909
- There have only been 40-50 cases reported since then
- AHS is thought to be due to nerve damage in the Corpus Callosum
- Part of the brain: Frontal Lobe & Corpus Callosum


- "The Cree Witiko Psychosis", Primitive Man 1933 Author: John M. Cooper