Strangest Mental Health Disorders

The human brain is an incredibly complex and fascinating organ. While it enables us to perform a great many tasks in our everyday life, it also causes some very unusual mental conditions. We are aware of the more common mental health disorders that individuals may suffer with, for example schizophrenia, but there are some that you may not have heard of.

The following list of mental health disorders compiles some of the strangest conditions that the human mind can battle with. They are truly bizarre and many are hard to fathom. The good news is that in most cases, individuals can continue to live a full life with the right treatment.

1. Paris Syndrome

This little known mental health disorder manifests exclusively in Japanese tourists and nationals, while they are in the French Capital. It is described as a severe case of culture shock.

Millions of Japanese tourists flock to Paris each year, with an idyllic view in their mind of what to expect. The city is romanticized in movies, poetry and history – and often the reality does not meet the dream. Paris is of course a modern, busy hive of activity, filled with a mixture of people, who are not all like the stereotypes immortalized in popular culture.

Around twelve Japanese tourists each year suffer from a mental breakdown during their time in Paris when they are seriously disappointed or angered. The Japanese embassy has even set up a hotline to support their Nationals in this situation.

2. Neglect Syndrome

Neglect syndrome is one of the most fascinating mental health disorders on this list. Sufferers are unable to recognize both sides of a space equally. They become virtually blind to one side – i.e., the left or the right.

They may apply makeup to one side of their face, or dress only half of their body. Food on the ‘invisible’ side may be left on the plate – and they do not realize that they have done anything unusual. In experiments where patients with neglect syndrome are asked to draw a clock, they frequently draw a circle, with all of the numbers squeezed into one half of the face.

This bizarre condition is often the result of damage to one hemisphere of the brain, in situations such as car accidents or a stroke for example.

3. Mythomania

This condition is characterized by excessive compulsive lying, with no clear motivation. The sufferer often believes their tales to be true. This is different from a pathological liar, who is trying to impress others.

4. Walking Corpse Syndrome

This condition is also known as the Cotard delusion. It is thankfully a rare psychiatric condition, in which the affected person believes that they are dead. They may even believe that they are rotting and putrefying. Some sufferers consider themselves immortal. It is typical for these individuals to have feelings of self loathing, despair and severe depression.

The condition was first brought to light by a French neurologist Jules Cotard. He described a case where a female patient insisted on being prepared for funeral and laid in a shroud so that her family could mourn her passing.

5. Reduplicative Paramnesia

Individuals suffering with this condition hold the delusional belief that a location or place has been duplicated – and thus exists in two (or more) places simultaneously – or has been relocated to a separate site.

Patients may therefore insist that they are not in the hospital that there were admitted to, and are in fact in another identical hospital in another location. They often concoct elaborate stories to explain obvious discrepancies – such as the staff being the same in ‘both’ locations.

6. Stockholm Syndrome

This condition is considered to be a psychological defense response, seen in abducted hostages. Unbelievably a hostage can sometimes exhibit behaviors towards their captor such as loyalty, sympathy and understanding. It may even go so far as to include voluptuary compliance with their demands. This syndrome is also recognized in other scenarios such as domestic and child abuse.

Stockholm syndrome is named after an incident in Sweden, in 1973, where bank robbers held employees of the bank hostage for six days. During this time the victims formed bonds with the criminals and actually defended them.

7. Alien Hand Syndrome

This strange mental health disorder is one that has been used to entertain audiences in movies and advertisements, but the truth is far from humorous. Individuals who suffer with this syndrome claim that one of their hands has taken on a life of its own – and they have no control over it. Often these people do not notice what the hand in question is doing until they look at it – or it affects them in some way. The rogue hand can sometimes be abusive to the owner, or other people.

It can take enormous mental effort to control the ‘alien hand,’ and sometimes the other hand is forced to physically restrain it.

8. Diogenes Syndrome

This mental health condition is named after the Greek philosopher Diogenes, who lived a life of nihilism and animalism. Those who suffer with this disorder exhibit extreme self neglect. They are often reclusive, and have the compulsion to hoard possessions. It is most frequently seen in aging people.

9. Capgras Delusion

This mental health disorder is another favorite of the film-world. Individuals suffering with this illness believe wholeheartedly that one of their closest loved ones, often a spouse or family member, has been replaced by an identical impostor, or clone.

It causes extreme paranoia, when the individual feels that they can no longer trust the person that was once so close. One case, known as Madame M, held the delusional belief that her husband was actually around 80 clones, who would swap over at various points throughout the day.

This is sometimes accompanied by other mental conditions, such as schizophrenia – but it can also occur following a brain injury, although it is quite rare. The condition is most prevalent in women.

10. Stendhal Syndrome

This mental health condition causes a physical, psychosomatic response when the individual in question is exposed to art – particularly when it is overwhelming in ‘beauty’ or quantity. This can also include ‘natural art’ – i.e., being immersed in nature.

The symptoms include racing heartbeat, confusion, dizziness and sometimes hallucinations.

11. Fregoli Syndrome

The Fregoli syndrome is considered the opposite of the Capgras delusion. In this rare mental health disorder, the sufferer believes that different individuals are in fact one single person, who is simply shape shifting – or wearing a disguise. It is often accompanied by intense paranoia and confusion.

12. Munchausen Syndrome

Sufferers of Munchausen syndrome is known as one of the factitious disorders – whereby the symptoms exhibited are self-induced or falsified by the patient. Individuals with this condition fake illness, disease or psychological trauma so that they can gain attention and sympathy from others.

It can also manifest as Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy – where an individual fakes illness in a separate person (often their child). Worryingly this can even include harming the ‘patient’ in order to give credibility to the story, and encouraging further sympathy.

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