10 Most Bizarre Mental Disorders
We’ve seen the 10 most unusual mental disorders. This is the second part that deals with unusual disorders of the brain, with the emphasis here being slightly more on physical disorders. For instance, illness that is caused due to any physical damage that the brain or any other part of the body may have suffered. Most of the illness mentioned here are extremely rare, though a few of them are surprisingly common.
Phantom Limb Disorder
Those suffering from this disorder experience a persistent sensation of the presence of an amputated or missing limb or even an organ, like the appendix. It is common among 50 to 80% of people who have had to undergo amputation to suffer from this disorder. Symptoms include feeling of pain and discomfort in the phantom limb, with some sufferers complaining that the limb is no longer under their control. Again for some, the disorder leads to them believing that they can feel their phantom limbs gesticulating as they talk. Virtual Reality therapy is often the preferred method of treating this disorder.
Body Integrity Identity Disorder
The strange desire to have a healthy part of the body amputated is what characterizes this disorder, with there even being instances, in extreme cases, of the sufferer having amputated their own limbs. Also known as Amputee Identity Disorder, this form of illness also includes those who harbor sexual fetishes involving amputees. Some surgeons are known to have actually performed the amputation of a limb of those who suffer from this disorder, though such an act is shrouded in controversy. However, most doctors use the same methods of treatment as has been found effective in treating Phantom Limb Disorder.
Mythomania refers to the condition in which sufferers indulge in compulsive lying or engage in exaggeration, even if there is absolutely no reason to justify such an act. Affected people strongly believe their lies to be true and won’t mind indulging in creation of elaborate myths just to reconcile their lies with other facts. For someone who is a ‘pathological liar’, it is all but common to stitch together elaborate stories that they believe will impress others. May be the difference between a pathological liar and a normal liar is that the former believe that the lie that they tell others is true at least in public and that they are just ‘playing’ the role.
Described as a type of monothematic delusion, somatoparaphrenia is characterized by the sudden denial of the ownership of a particular limb or even an entire side of the body by affected persons. For instance, the patient might believe that his limb actually belongs to the doctor or to someone else who may have left it behind. The preferred method of treating this disorder is vestibular caloric stimulation, which involves squirting warm water into the patient’s ear in a specific way, though most sufferers may not be aware of this. For them, amputation is the only way out, which is almost always denied since amputating a healthy limb is an outright violation of the Hippocratic Oath.
Munchausen is essentially a psychiatric disorder with those affected with it likely to fake disease, illness or psychological trauma just to draw attention or sympathy of others. It is classified as factitious disorder in which the symptoms are either self-induced or is faked by the patient. Also sometimes referred to as the Hospital Addiction Syndrome, it is somewhat related to the Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy in which the affected person will indulge in feigning the illness in another person. In fact, the person can even go to the extent of causing them harm in order to perpetuate the myth so as to gain sympathy for themselves.
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome or AIWS refers to the condition where the patient’s sense of time, space and body image gets distorted. Also known as Micropsia, common symptoms are a change in visual perception, with affected people likely to see things drastically reduced in size or may feel that their own body parts have altered in both shape and size. It is due to their tendency to see things such as humans, animals or inanimate objects extremely small than they actually are that led to the condition be termed Lilliput Sight or Lilliput Hallucinations and is something that drug users are likely to be familiar with.
Neglect Syndrome is marked by the loss of ability of the affected person to give equal attention to both sides of a space and is likely to be caused if the person suffers damage to one hemisphere of the brain, as for instance in a stroke. A common scenario for the affected person is to wake up in the morning and proceed to shave, only to be found later to have shaved only one half of the face. Similarly when drawing a person, they would tend to leave off the arm and leg of one side, and will find it to be perfectly normal and fine if questioned. When drawing a clock, the sufferer would draw a circle and put in all the numbers on one side of it.
Kleptomania is a disorder in which sufferers fail to resist the urge to steal things. It is the sheer act of stealing that they wish to engage in, with what they steal being of little or no significance to them. They would usually steal things of little value while some will tend to steal the same items over and over again. Kleptomania is believed to be a part of the obsessive compulsive range of disorders and generally begins in puberty, while continuing till late adulthood. Despite it being a mental disorder, the US and UK courts does not consider it as a defense against stealing.
Foreign Accent Syndrome
Foreign Accent Disorder is an illness involving speech production and is usually the side effect of brain injury such as stroke or physical injury to the head with affected persons likely to speak their native language in a foreign accent. It is an extremely rare disorder with just about 50-recorded instances of the disease from 1941 till 2006. According to Wikipedia, a well-known case of the disorder occurred in Norway in 1941 when a young woman got injured in her head from shrapnel during an air raid. Though she recovered from the injury, she ended up speaking in a tone that sounded like a strong German accent, which led to her being shunned by fellow Norwegians.
Genital Retraction Syndrome
Genital Retraction Syndrome is a very strange disorder in which affected people suffer from an overwhelming belief that their genitals, breasts in case of women sufferers, are shrinking, retracting in to the body or may be imminently removed. Even more strange is the fact that such a disorder has given way to mass hysteria or panic with male members being affected with it in large scale, a phenomenon that is termed as penis panic. This disorder is also considered to be a culture specific syndrome and is often associated with occult beliefs or witchcraft. Instances of penis panic have been recorded in China in 1948, 1955, 1966, 1974 and 1984/85.