The 10 Weirdest Known Mental Syndromes

We review a series of syndromes and affectations that escape our understanding.

The functioning of our nervous system is complex enough to give rise, on certain occasions when something does not work properly, to all kinds of syndromes that can be difficult to believe.

Despite the fact that the  brain gives us a unitary and meaningful conception of reality, sometimes certain alterations can cause our way of perceiving things to be totally torn without us even realizing it. This list with the rarest mental syndromes serves as an example to see to what extent our nervous system is capable of entering into harmful dynamics without stopping functioning.

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10 rare mental syndromes

In turn, the knowledge and study of these rare syndromes can help to understand that pathological cases cannot simply be labeled with the label “madness” and that there are underlying norms and rules that can be studied to improve social integration and the quality of life of these people.

1. Crystal illusion

Within the so-called cultural syndromes we can find some of the most curious cases of rare mental syndromes. Among them, the crystal illusion can be named . 

People who suffer from this psychiatric disorder believe that they are made of this fragile material and that, therefore, they can be broken with the slightest blow. Despite having a lot of motives and reasons to think that their body is normal, they are not able to abandon this totally irrational belief.

This syndrome was much more frequent a few centuries ago, and the majority of cases occurred between the 15th and 18th centuries. In fact, Miguel de Cervantes used a protagonist suffering from this rare syndrome in his Exemplary Novels , specifically in El Licenciado Vidriera. However, some isolated cases of crystal illusion have now been observed.

2. Cotard syndrome

If it is considered one of the rarest mental syndromes, it is precisely because it is difficult to explain in words what those people who suffer from it feel.  

People with Cotard Syndrome believe they are dead or belong to a plane of reality that does not correspond to that of other people and objects. Classically, these people deny the existence of their body as something alive or belonging to the same category as their mind. Thus, they may believe that their flesh is rotting, that their internal organs are disappearing, or that in some figurative way they themselves have ceased to exist.

We delve into this strange syndrome:  “Cotard syndrome: living people who believe they are dead”

3. Bálint syndrome

A rare syndrome in which the patient experiences severe disturbances in the processing of the images he sees and in the coordination of his movements.  

Specifically, three categories of symptoms have been described: the impossibility of processing the images as a whole, problems coordinating arm movements according to what is being seen, and problems moving the eyes. This means, for example, that someone with Bálint Syndrome will be able to see a person if they are close to them, but they will not know if they are next to them or a few meters away, on the other side of a window, since they will not be able to see the image as a whole but each of its parts separately. 

Similarly, you will only be able to grasp an object you are viewing in your hand after many attempts and thanks largely to chance.

4. Alice in Wonderland syndrome

Like the protagonist of Lewis Carroll’s novel, people with this rare syndrome experience alterations in space-time. .. or at least that is what happens in their consciousness.

They may believe that certain objects are much larger or smaller than they really are, or that time ceases to follow its traditional rules in certain places or times.

5. Anton’s syndrome

The syndrome Anton is a variant of cortical blindness in which the patient acts as if he could see.  

Although your eyes work well and the pupils react to variations in light, the back of the brain (occipital lobes) does not work well and data from the optic nerves is not processed to form an image, which is not it prevents certain areas of the brain from acting as if that information is reaching them. 

As a consequence, people who suffer from this rare syndrome deny the evidence that they see nothing, which leads them to formulate all kinds of explanations to justify their continuous stumbles and failures when it comes to detecting people and objects.

6. Capgras syndrome

One of the rarest syndromes, since it affects subjective and emotional aspects of our way of reacting to the presence of others.  

People who experience Capgras delusion believe that certain people, usually friends or family, have been replaced by imposters, although there are no objective reasons to support such a hypothesis. In this way, they are able to recognize the body, face and dress of, for example, their own father, but will deny that his identity is true and will react hostilely to his vision. 

It is a syndrome related to Prosopagnosia, although the latter has a cognitive component.

7. Alien hand syndrome

In people with Alien Hand Syndrome, those affected see how one of their hands seems to act of its own accord, without the consciousness itself having any role in defining the intentions and movements of this part of the body. 

This is often accompanied by the feeling that the hand does not belong to oneself, but to another foreign entity. These symptoms are part of a very rare neurological disease, but curiously it came to light in the movie Dr. Strangelove, in which Peter Sellers played an antagonist whose hand seemed to take on a life of its own, which served to make this set of symptoms is often called Dr. Strangelove Syndrome .

8. Othello syndrome

This is another one of those rare syndromes in which delusions and strange ideas about everyday reality take center stage. 

Specifically, people who experience Othello Syndrome believe that  their partners are being unfaithful, and for this they rely on the strangest hypotheses and the most insignificant details. It may seem like the caricature of an extreme case of jealousy, but the truth is that it is a psychopathology with very serious consequences both for the person who suffers it and for their close environment.

9. Münchhausen syndrome

People with this syndrome pretend to be sick so that others can take care of them. In some cases, they can even inflict all kinds of wounds and injuries to become patients.

This behavior is part of the need to assume the role of someone who constantly needs special care, and all this through  pathological lies.

10. Fregoli syndrome

One of the rarer mental syndromes is Fregoli Syndrome, in which the patient believes that different people are, in fact, one.  

That is, they have the feeling that one or more people have the ability to change their appearance to meet them under different disguises. Fregoli Syndrome is accompanied by thoughts of a paranoid type and persecution mania that are derived from this strange sensation.

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