Mental illness is a global phenomenon that affects a countless number of humans, many of whom may not be aware of, or may not be able to articulate their illnesses. Depression and anxiety are rather common mental illnesses — as far as mental health goes — that can intersect, as well as branch off into subgroups of illnesses, which often have devastating affects on the victims.
However, there are some rarer mental conditions that you might not know of, which are also serious and often disabling. Here are some of them:
This syndrome is named after Joseph Capgras, a French psychiatrist who explored the illusion of doubles. People who suffer from Capgras syndrome hold the belief that someone in their life — usually a family member, close friend, or spouse — has been replaced by an impostor (this is not the same as impostor syndrome).
Capgras can occur in people with dementia, epilepsy, and schizophrenia, following trauma to the brain, which is often why people with Capgras syndrome are given similar treatments to the other illnesses.
People who suffer from Stendhal or Florence syndrome often experience severe anxiety in the form of panic attacks, dissociative experiences, or hallucinations when they are exposed to art. These symptoms are typically triggered by “art that is perceived as particularly beautiful or when the individual is exposed to large quantities of art that are concentrated in a single place,” Medscape says.
Unfortunately, sufferers may also experience those symptoms when they are exposed to nature. This syndrome is named after a 19th-century French author, who experienced the symptoms during a trip to Florence in 1817. Stendhal syndrome may also be called hyperculturemia.
Also known as body integrity identity disorder, people with apotemnophilia will experience an overwhelming desire to amputate healthy parts of the body. People affected may actually attempt to amputate their own limbs, or damage the limb so that surgical amputation is necessary.
It remains unclear what the causes of apotemnophilia are, but it may be related to trauma on the right parietal lobe of the brain. The condition is difficult to treat because people who have do not usually seek treatment. Cognitive behavioural therapy and aversion therapies are sometimes used to treat apotemnophilia once the sufferer seeks it.
Alien Hand Syndrome
Alien hand syndrome is the belief that one’s hand doesn’t belong to them, but that it has its own mind, or is a separate living entity. People with alien hand syndrome typically have normal sensation in their body, and while they can often feel everything their hand touches, they still think it has a will of its own.
Sufferers may even personify the limb, or give it its own identity. The unaffected hand is under the individual’s control, but the affected hand has its own mind and possibly identity. This syndrome may occur in individuals who have damage to the corpus callosum, which connects the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain. Strokes can also cause this syndrome, where the hands then appear to be in “intermanual conflict” or “ideomotor apraxia,” meaning they act antagonistically to one another.
People with pica have a compulsion to eat things that have no nutritional value, or non-food substances such as paint or soil, that continues for more than one month. The disorder is characterised into subtypes:
- Coprophagy, consumption of faecal matter;
- Geophagy, the consumption of soil, clay or dirt;
- Hyalophagia, the consumption of glass;
- Tricophagia, consumption of hair or wool; and
- Urophagia, consumption of urine.
Pica can be particularly dangerous because a sufferer can end up with lead poisoning, gastrointestinal inflammation, or tears in the stomach lining when a person ingests metallic objects
It has been linked to various mineral deficiencies or chemical imbalances, but experts haven’t conclusively determined its cause or a cure. It can occur in anyone, but most commonly happens when someone is pregnant, though still rarely.