Today we are lucky enough to live in a highly advanced world, brimming with new technology and discoveries. In terms of medicine, there has never been a better time to be alive because medical breakthroughs are constantly being made. This means that doctors have an excellent understanding of the human body and are able to help people, even patients with seemingly bizarre mental ailments.
Until quite recently mental illness was largely misunderstood and as a result, many people suffered, not only from their condition but also from a lack of understanding from those around them.
We have a better understanding of these types of conditions today but don’t fool yourself, there are still many mental disorders that we don’t have a clue about. Some are so rare that they barely get reported while others are simply impossible to explain, analyze, or treat. We can only hope that as technology progresses, we will be able to explain these strange disorders and one day cure them.
From people waking up with strange foreign accents, a woman who has explosive reactions to sounds and a man who thought his wife was a hat, all the people on this list have bizarre conditions that have left doctors shaking their heads.
15 The Real-Life Alice In Wonderland
Since childhood, Abigail Moss has suffered from a strange psychological disorder that is so rare that doctors couldn’t even diagnose her. The condition affects her sense of vision and perception, which makes it feel like her body, and objects around her are suddenly growing and shrinking. Due to the similarity between this disorder and the way that Alice perceives her world in Lewis Carroll’s famous work, it has become known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.
The condition is often associated with migraine headaches and some doctors believe that it could be possible that Lewis Carroll himself suffered from this disorder, which was why he was able to describe it so well in his book. Lewis did suffer from migraine headaches during his life so he may have used these bizarre symptoms as a source of inspiration.
14 The Man Who Thought His Wife Was A Hat
Oliver Sacks was a neurologist as well as an author. One of the works he is most remembered for is a book called The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat in which he describes the bizarre case of a man who he referred to as Dr. P. The man suffered from a strange type of visual disorder that didn’t affect his ability to see but caused him not to be able to make sense of the objects he saw.
Dr. P thought that his wife was a hat and often talked to knobs on furniture mistaking them for faces. When he went for walks, he mistook fire hydrants for children. Sacks believed that the condition may have been caused by earlier damage to the brain, possibly due to an accident.
13 The Man Who Wanted To Be Eaten
A man, only known as Stephen, went to a mental health clinic seeking guidance. He was concerned that he might be gay, but what he told the counselors at the clinic left them speechless.
Now we all know about cannibals like Jeffrey Dahmer, who want to eat other people, but have you ever heard of people who desire to be eaten? Stephen confessed that he had fantasies about being eaten and digested by "a large, dominant woman” and that these thoughts were becoming intrusive and affecting his daily activities. Doctors examined Stephen thoroughly and determined that he wasn’t gay but advised him that they couldn’t assist him with the fantasies about wanting to be eaten.
This is known as vorarephilia; the erotic desire to be consumed by another person or creature, and there is still no known treatment for it.
12 The Woman Who Had A Song Stuck In Her Head For Four Years
Okay, so we’ve all had a song stuck in our head at one time or another, but usually, if we just ignore it the song goes away. Now imagine having the same song stuck in your head for four long torturous years. Sounds excruciating, right? This really happened to a woman named Susan Root, who kept hearing the song “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window” over and over again.
She desperately sought out help from brain specialists and therapists but nothing seemed to help. After four years the song inexplicably switched to “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. Sometimes her husband needs to shout to get Susan’s attention because the song in her head drowns out all other noise. Doctors think it might be a form of musical tinnitus but they can’t be sure.
11 The Woman Who Believed She Had 80 Identical Husbands
Imagine seeing your brother, sister, mother, or husband, and suddenly believing that the person you’ve known for years has been replaced with a replica?
This is an actual neurological disorder called Capgras Syndrome and we are only now beginning to understand what causes this nightmarish condition.
It was first described by a French psychiatrist named Joseph Capgras in 1923 who recounted the case of a woman who he called Madame M. She believed that her husband, and other people that she knew, had been replaced by a series of look-alike doubles. At one point she believed that at least 80 men were all pretending to be her husband. This creepy disorder occurs when the brain has difficulty identifying people and starts to believe that they have been substituted.
10 The Mad King Who Spoke Until He Foamed At The Mouth
Today doctors attribute King Georges madness on a genetic defect known as porphyria but there was no solid evidence of this until 2005. The British king who lived from 1738 until 1820 displayed bizarre behavior which worsened as he became old and lost his hearing and sight. He would speak for hours on end sometimes until he foamed at the mouth and there were reports that he once spoke nonsense for a solid 58 hours. He would rage with fits of melancholy and anger so violently that doctors often needed to restrain him.
Researchers found a large amount of arsenic in his blood, which they think was present in the medications the doctors of the time treated him with. This could have actually set off the porphyria which means that it only made his condition worse.
9 The Woman With More Than Twenty Personalities Living Inside Her
Kim Noble has been diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) (once referred to as Multiple Personality Syndrome). While doctors are convinced that she truly suffers from this disorder her case is still baffling due to the number of different personalities that live inside Kim. In genuine cases of DID, severe psychological trauma causes the personality to split into several different parts and creates barriers between them.
Doctors have identified at least 20 different personalities in Kim and concluded that none of them are aware of each other. Most of her personalities are artists, although Kim is not a trained artist, and all have their own styles when it comes to themes, techniques, and colors. Psychologists believe that Kim suffered severe abuse as a child and that this caused her to develop DID.
8 The Wild Boy Of Aveyron Who Never Recovered
In 1800, a strange, disheveled child emerged out of the Aveyron forest in South West France. He was about 11 or 12 years old and those who discovered him believed that he had been living in the wild for many years. It was never revealed how the boy, who they called Victor, came to be abandoned.
Psychologists and philosophers were eager to study the feral child to find out how the lack of human interaction had affected him. But their attempts to socialize him were only partly successful. He eventually managed to acquire toilet skills and was able to dress himself, but he couldn’t learn to talk and only had rudimentary language comprehension.
Some researchers now believe that Victor may have been autistic and this might have been the reason that he was left in the wild.
7 A Traumatic Brain Injury Completely Changed His Personality
In 1848 Phineas Gage was working on a railway line when he had an accident that should have been fatal. An explosive charge blasted an iron rod into his eye, through his brain, and out the back of his skull. Gage somehow survived and doctors would successfully remove the rod but he was never the same again.
Friends and family said that Gage’s personality altered so drastically after the accident that he almost seemed like another person entirely. Where he had once been energetic and loving he became listless and aggressive. At the time his case baffled doctors, but today experts believe that this was a classic case of frontal brain damage which often alters personality. Gage did receive extensive rehabilitation and returned to work, this time as a carriage driver.
6 The Norwegian Woman Who Woke Up With A German Accent
In 1941 from Norway named Astrid was struck on the head by a piece of shrapnel. Astrid, who had lived in Norway all her life, woke up the morning after the accident to find that she suddenly had a German accent. This caused quite a few problems for her as shopkeepers would refuse to serve her because she sounded like a German. She sought out a neurologist, but even he couldn’t explain why it was happening, or how to correct it. Accents are usually formed by your location so suddenly acquiring one seems almost impossible.
Since 1907 there have been 62 reported cases of foreign accent syndrome and although doctors now know that it is related to brain injury they are still struggling to understand the condition.
5 The Boy With No Appetite
Landon Jones can taste and smell perfectly well but he lacks an appetite. It hasn’t always been this way for the teenager, his drive to eat and drink seemed to simply vanish overnight and his case has left doctors baffled.
Jones continues to lose weight and his parents constantly need to remind him to eat and drink and sometimes almost force feed him just to keep him alive. Although he has a history of seizures, doctors are still unsure about what exactly is causing this condition.
One theory is that his hypothalamus (the control center of the brain) might be malfunctioning. This part of the brain regulates body temperature, sleep cycles, and blood pressure as well as hunger and thirst. But doctors are still investigating and hopefully, they will be able to make a definite diagnosis soon.
4 Would You Stand By And Watch Someone Being Murdered?
What would you do if you saw someone being attacked in the street? Would you try and intervene? Would you call the police? Well, according to a psychological principle known as the Bystander Effect chances are that you would do absolutely nothing.
The most famous incident of Bystander Syndrome occurred in 1964 when a woman called Kitty Genovese was attacked on her way home from work. It’s thought that over 30 people witnessed the attack, but none of them did anything to help. She was eventually murdered.
This is also known as bystander apathy and it is a social phenomenon that proposes that individuals are less likely to help someone in peril if there are other persons present at the same time. There are several factors involved with this condition that scientists continue to study.
3 Eating Noises Drive Her Into An Uncontrollable Rage
Many of us dislike the sound of someone eating loudly but we can more or less put up with it if we have to. That’s not possible for Adah Siganoff. Adah suffers from a rare and often misdiagnosed psychiatric condition known as misophonia. Misophonia is the hatred of sound and is also known as select sound sensitivity syndrome. It is not currently recognized as a confirmed disorder and doctors are still battling to understand what causes it.
If Adah Siganoff hears someone eating, she has an irrational and uncontrollable outburst of anger. For others sufferers of this strange condition, it could be any type of noise that sets them off. The worst part? There’s no known effective treatment for this condition which means they have to live with these fits of rage.
2 The Woman Whose Hand Had A Mind Of Its Own
There are only about 40 people in the world suffering from a mysterious disorder known as Alien Hand Syndrome. The condition is also often referred to as Dr. Strangelove Syndrome because the Peter Sellers character in Dr. Strangelove also had a rogue hand which he could sometimes not control. People who suffer from this condition have experiences where their limbs act out and they cannot control the actions. In severe cases, the anarchic hand will sometimes even try to harm the sufferer. They sometimes need to resort to physically restraining the hand by keeping it strapped up.
A professor from the University of Aberdeen who is studying the condition said that he encountered a woman whose alien hand would stuff fish bones into her mouth until she choked. Very distressing indeed.
1 The Woman Who Insisted That She Was Corpse
Cotard delusion is an extremely rare mental illness where the affected person suffers from the delusion that they are already dead. Some even believe that they are rotting, losing their blood or organs, or don’t exist at all. Paradoxically, some sufferers also believe that they are immortal, cursed to walk the earth as a corpse forever hence why the disorder is sometimes also known as Walking Corpse Syndrome.
The condition was first discussed by neurologist Jules Cotard in 1880 where he refers to a woman he encountered who suffered from a severe form of this disorder. The woman, called Mademoiselle X, completely denied the existence of certain parts of her body, believed that she was dead, and refused to eat. She told Cotard that she was damned and could not die naturally. She eventually died of starvation as no one at the time understood the condition well enough to help her.