Mental illness is an issue that has not received enough discussion on a global level. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in the US alone, one in four families includes a member suffering from a mental illness. When looking at the entire world, an estimated 450 million people suffer from a disease that alters their behavior or mentality.
Any mental illness can be horrifying. Certain illnesses can become inspiration for horror films. When examining the effects of some diseases, it becomes clear why some suffers are mistaken as monsters. A person can become an entire different being when a mental illness takes over. That’s “being” – they don’t necessarily think they’re human. In some cases, the person believes they are a demon. In others, the human believes that they are dead, yet still on Earth.
The effects can be trumped by the causes. In some cases, a person won’t be susceptible unless they suffer an injury to their brain or are born into a culture. Then, for some, it can happen out of nowhere. One day you are fine. The next, you believe monsters have taken over your loved ones. It almost seems like a premise for a dumb horror/comedy. Except it’s not.
There are several other illnesses that may scare you more than these. When it comes to horrifying illnesses, we unfortunately have quite a few. These are ten of the most horrifying in the world today.
Of all the illnesses making the list, Wendigo is the only one where the sufferer craves human flesh. The story emerges from Algonquian native cultures that details a cannibal monster named Wendigo. With so much notoriety, several film and literary works detailing possession have made mention to the psychosis.
Wendigo faces some opposition in its classification as an illness. Rather, some claim it is a culture-bound illness, meaning you can only be affected when growing up within a certain culture. Either way, it is a relief knowing that most people run a slim chance of craving human flesh.
Alice In Wonderland Syndrome
Painful migraines and misconceptions about the world around you. That is life for a sufferer of AIWS. Sufferers are prone to hearing sounds larger and smaller than they actually are. Objects look larger and smaller than they actually are as well. It could be a land of enchantment if there wasn’t so much pain wrapped around it.
Furthering the connection to the book, AIWS has similarities to an LSD trip, but without the euphoric feelings. That may be because the syndrome has links to those that use psychoactive drugs, but it can stem from tumors as well. Thankfully, this problem tends to only impact people into their 20s.
Alien Hand Syndrome
Imagine having the life choked out of you. Your clothes ripped and you bloodied. For sufferers of AHS, this can become reality. Even when the sufferer feels their limb, they have no way of controlling it. When your own body becomes a free entity, anything can happen.
Thankfully, AHS does not appear too often in medical reports. Unless you have had brain surgery or your brain split, you most likely won’t find your limbs moving on their own. Unfortunately, there is no cure. At this point, the only cure offered is to occupy the hand with tasks.
Of all the illnesses, Kluver-Bucy has some of the worst changes it can bring. Sufferers have been known to lose their memory, eat inappropriate objects, and have an increased sex drive that could include engaging in acts with non human subjects. While the photo above may not be an actual sufferer of Kluver-Bucy, something along that line could happen.
To have the illness diagnosed, a sufferer needs at least three of the symptoms. Making the matter worse, there is no cure. Until there is a way to cure temporal lobe injuries, sufferers will be left to deal with this for the rest of their lives.
Cotard’s doesn’t lead you to believe that you are in a zombie apocalypse. Unfortunately, with Cotard’s you believe that you are dead. Also known as “Walking Corpse Syndrome”, Cotard’s leads sufferers to believe that they have died but continue to walk the Earth.
Making Cotard’s much harder to understand, the medical community has only recently acknowledged the illness as a true problem. Even though it was first introduced in the 1880s, it took until 2007 to be formally recognized. This may explain why there have not been many major breakthroughs in curing this form of delusion. Cotard’s sufferers tend to be depressed and make several suicide attempts to test their delusion.
Famed Italian actor Leopoldo Fregoli probably did not want this to be one of his lasting distinctions. The delusion bearing his name comes from the actor’s ability to change into costume faster than any other actor in his day. Now, the delusion leads sufferers to believe that several people are one person under different forms of a costume. This makes the sufferer believe they are being persecuted and often in a heightened state of paranoia.
Fregoli’s also impacts the sufferers memory with places and events as well. Life becomes an altered state of living for the individual. Making the issue more stressful, research has been controversial due to the illness’ ties to other disorders and how they affect one another.
Imagine living a life where you don’t know who to trust. The person you knew or cared about is no longer there. They’ve been replaced by an impostor. The opposite of Fregoli’s, Capgras has sufferers believing that a monster, robot, or other sort of threat has taken over a person. To a sufferer of the illness, anyone can be anyone.
The delusions usually come from another form of illness like schizophrenia, but can also occur after a head injury. Treatment is an isolated procedure in most cases where the subject is faced with reality tests.
Of all the syndromes on this list, Stockholm is most likely the most well known. Made famous 40 years ago by Jan-Erik ”Janne” Olsson’s bank robbery/hostage situation (above), Stockholm Syndrome makes the hostage sympathize with their captor. This usually occurs after the victim endures extreme situations against their will.
The most famous incident involving the syndrome comes from Patty Hearst of the Hearst media family. In 1974, the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Hearst. Later, Hearst declared that she had joined the group herself. Hearst would go on to later attribute the actions to her brainwashing and sexual abuse while under SLA control.
You know how some towns have an old shut in or cat lady in the neighborhood? There’s a good chance that that person has Diogenes. This syndrome usually starts out of a paranoia or inability to form lasting relationships. After some time, the problems go further into isolation and an entire breakdown from the social world.
The elderly seem to be the most susceptible, thanks to their diminished amount of human contact. This often can lead to self-neglect. Once this happens, the sufferer will fill their life with random items, garbage and/or animals.
This eating disorder is sometimes linked to Kluver-Bucy Syndrome for their needs to eat non-food substances. This includes grass, dirt, pins and other items found in everyday life. Once a stomach of a Pica sufferer is examined, it can be mind blowing to see what is left in there after years of self-abuse.
Pica does have some detractors, people who believe that it isn’t an illness. Some have raised the issue that it is a mineral deficiency in the subject. Others believe it to be an illness, but cultural in origin. Regardless, a life of compulsions to eat strange objects is scary enough. No matter how it gets labeled.