It’s no secret that mental health disorders are prevalent now more than ever, particularly in the Western world where 26% of the U.S. adult population are affected by depression. On top of this, it has been estimated that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability throughout the world. Whether this tells us something about modern living and western culture or not is another matter altogether. With the emergence of psychology as a science, we are fortunate enough to have treatments for such disorders, along with the identification of illnesses that otherwise went unclassified or were not thought to have existed at all. This being said, we are still yet to scratch the surface of how the brain works, a long with all of it’s faculties and faults. Below, we explore eight of the quirkiest – nay, most insane psychological disorders officially recognised by doctors and scientists today.
The classic example being werewolf(ism?), this is a disorder whereby the sufferer believes he or she has become, or is physically becoming an animal. It’s name actually comes from the greek word lycanthrope which basically translates into wolfman. The disorder is not only reserved for wannabe Jacob Blacks (yes, a twilight reference – does that upset you?) – people have been known to think they’re transforming into animals as arbitrary as hyenas, frogs, horses, bees, cats and birds. A sub-division of this disorder is Boanthropy. This involves the patient believing him or herself to be a cow or an ox and thus adopt the behaviour of our four legged friends. Researchers speculate that the disorder may originate in a dream before the delusion begins seeping into ones waking life and taking over the awakened mind of the patient.
2) Genital retraction syndrome
A slightly bigger issue than micropenis (in more ways than one), genital retraction syndrome aka Koro syndrome is a mental disorder in which the sufferer experiences severe anxiety over – wait for it – a grave fear that their penis is slowly retracting up into their body. The icing on this weirdly debilitating cake is that once their penis (or breasts) have fully retracted into the sufferer’s lower abdomen – the patient believes he (or she) will die.
3) Cotards Delusion
A syndrome named after French neurologist Jules Cotard, this disorder involves some interesting delusions that could turn anyone’s waking hours into a living nightmare. Also known as ‘walking corpse syndrome’, Cotards comprises of the sufferer believing that they are dead and thus cease to exist, which often includes the belief that they have lost all of their blood and internal organs. Understandably, this makes it difficult for sufferers to make sense of reality and as a result they often become depressed and withdrawn. This delusion is often found in schizophrenia patients.
4) Capgras delusion
Another condition very often associated with schizophrenia patients, the sufferer of Capgras is consumed by a paranoia that leads to them believing that a person who is close to them – often a family member or friend – has been replaced by an identical imposter. The disorder is thought to be neurologically similar to Cotards in that both often stem from schizophrenia, however Capgras can also be a result from a brain injury or trauma.
5) Paris Syndrome
Planning a romantic trip to the land of love with your significant other? Interested in seeing the Eiffel tower? Then say bonjour to your newfound insanity. Perhaps the most seemingly arbitrary disorder on the list (as well as the one below), Paris syndrome is a temporary delusion that affects people who find the city does not reach the romanticised view they had of the place. Symptoms include hallucinations, anxiety, delusions of persecution and other physical features. It seems to affect primarily Japanese tourists believed to be a culture shock resulting from their highly idealised view of the city. How does one recover from such a debilitating disorder?
6) Jerusalem Syndrome
Similar to Paris syndrome in that it’s spurred on by visiting a place, Jerusalem syndrome causes visitors to become entirely obsessed with the city after arriving. Symptoms involve obsessive ideas regarding the place, delusions and other psychosis based manifestations. Examples include spontaneously singing hymns, shouting bible excerpts or an unshakeable resolution to wear a tonga (yes, seriously). The extensive treatment programme recommended is the same for those suffering Paris syndrome – go home, ya loony.
This neurological psychosexual ‘disorder’ (it’s more of a fetish – a weird, sordid fetish if you ask me) involves those ‘suffering’ to be sexually aroused by ideas regarding their own missing limbs. I guess this fetish is classified as a disorder based on the fact that extreme sufferers often act upon their sexual desires, amputating their own healthy limb or limbs in order to ‘get off’, but so long as their fetish remains just a fetish, there’s no ‘arm done…
The other side of the above disorder, Acrotomophilia is the erotic interest in others who have had their limbs removed.