The human brain is a complex organ, capable of all sorts of greatness. It is also capable of breaking down and creating mental problems such as delusions, depression, and paranoia. When certain things go wrong with the brain, some odd psychological disorders can result. Sometimes these psychological disorders co-exist with other mental illness, drug abuse, or psychological defect. Often such bizarre mental disorders are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to control and/or to overcome. Just imagine if you had the uncontrollable impulse to cut off your own leg. Or to keep working out for hours upon hours every day until your muscles were crying out in pain. These are just a few of the strange disorders that people can be subjected to when things go wrong with the brain.
If you suffer from Hybristophilia, you’re attracted to people who have committed a crime. This applies to all of the women (and men) who send mail to jailed serial killers every day. Many men behind bars find their spouses through this bizarre disorder. Also called the “Bonnie and Clyde Syndrome,” Hybristophilia can also involve the sufferer helping the person commit a crime. Those with Hybristophilia have even been known to help a murderer kill, help a rapist acquire his next target, or help a criminal escape. This is one of the few psychological disorders that is found more often in women than in men.
2. Stockholm Syndrome
Those familiar with the Patty Hearst case will recognize this one. Stockholm Syndrome occurs when a kidnapped person becomes loyal and sympathetic to their kidnapper. It can also occur in rape cases, abuse cases, anytime a person is being subjugated to another’s will. Sometimes the person with Stockholm Syndrome becomes so compliant they will commit crimes for their captors (in Hearst’s case, for example). More recently, in the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping case, when she was found just miles from her home, it was postulated that she might have willingly stayed with her captors and possibly suffered from Stockholm Syndrome.
3. Diogenes Syndrome
Named after the ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes, this syndrome is usually found in elderly people and involves self-neglect (such as ignoring one’s own hygiene), reclusion, and hoarding. Many associate it with senility, and it can also accompany depression. People who have Diogenes Syndrome live in extreme squalor, to the detriment of their own health. The cat lady in your neighborhood, you know, the one with 50 cats who never leaves her house and has a constant, offensive body odor? She probably suffers from Diogenes Syndrome.
4. Cotard’s Syndrome
This (thankfully) rare psychological disorder involves thinking that you’re dead, that you don’t exist, or that you’ve lost all (or just some) of your blood and/or internal organs. It can also involve feelings of immortality. Named after the French neurologist who first discovered the condition in 1880, Cotard’s Syndrome wasn’t given legitimate status as a psychological disorder until 2007. Many with bipolar disorder also manifest Cotard’s Syndrome. Cotard’s sufferers often test their own mortality by attempting suicide over and over again.
In this disorder, experiencing something through one of the senses causes another sense to be automatically and involuntarily stimulated. Sufferers of Synesthesia think they can taste shapes, see music, and smell words. Brain patterns of those with Synesthesia show activation of different senses, proving that these people are actually experiencing the sense as they feel it (tasting something that can’t be tasted, for example). The most common form of Synesthesia involves seeing a particular color when you hear or see a certain letter of the alphabet or certain number. A sufferer might see the letter “r” as being yellow.
6. Capgras Delusion
Usually occurring in someone who already suffers from another psychological disorder (like schizophrenia), Capgras Delusion involves believing that someone has been replaced by a monster who looks exactly like that person. They might even think a loved one or friend has been replaced by an identical impostor robot whose purpose is to do them harm. Many people experience Capgras Delusion after a brain injury or when suffering from dementia. You might recognize this disorder from the movie “The Stepford Wives.”
Also known as “reverse anorexia” or “muscle dysmorphia,” Bigorexia is a psychological disorder in which the sufferer believes he or she is never muscular enough. The person suffering from bigorexia is always looking at himself/herself in the mirror, often taking steroids, and constantly working out, and becomes highly upset if he/she misses going to the gym. If you have bigorexia, you neglect your family and friends to make your own body look bigger. Next time you’re at the gym, look around and see if you can spot any sufferers of Bigorexia.
8. Reduplicative Paramnesia
In this odd disorder also known as delusional misidentification, a person believes that a place has been duplicated exactly and exists in two locations, or that a place has been relocated. Reduplicative Paramnesia can be found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. For example, a person with Reduplicative Paramnesia might have stayed in one hospital in one city last year and believes the different hospital he is in now is the exact same hospital but relocated to another city. It’s almost a bit like deja vu.
9. Munchausen Syndrome
In Munchausen Syndrome, someone feigns illness or disease in order to receive attention. The offshoot of this disorder that’s received the most publicity is Munchausen Syndrome-by-Proxy, in which mothers do things to their children to make them sick so that they will receive attention. Mothers suffering from this syndrome have been known to inject their children with fecal matter or other bacteria in order to receive sympathy and attention from medical personnel, family, friends, and others. The sickness of their children secretly thrills them, and they do everything they can to keep them sick.
Also called Body Integrity Identity Disorder or Amputee Identity Disorder, Apotemnophilia is a scary mental disorder in which the sufferer has an overwhelming urge to amputate one of his or her own healthy limbs or other parts of the body. In some cases, the person actually does amputate a part of the body. What’s even scarier is the fact that there’s another disorder for people who are attracted to those who are amputees, called Acrotomophilia . You don’t want to get an Apotemnophiliac together with the Acrotomophiliac, or someone’s going to come out a few limbs short!