The brain works in wonderful ways. It imposes different aspects of emotion and perception that create personalities. Our personalities are the product of past experience but sometimes, these experiences distort our own personalities and they become morbid and difficult to handle. These often result in personality disorders alongside deep-seated psychological issues. Here are the top 5 bizarre psychological disorders.
Although autophagia has not been officially classified as a mental disorder under the DSM Manual of Mental Disorder, it is still classified as an impulse disorder and it could be classified under the DSM’s Impulse Control Disorder Not Classified Anywhere. The disorder itself is based on the impulse where one person wants or tends to eat his own body part for the sheer satisfaction of it. A person suffering from autophagia might appear normal but right before the impulse to devour his own flesh happens, he or she feels aroused or feels a sense of tension. This feeling is then followed by the need to perform an act that is harmful to the person or to others. Most of the time, autophagia sufferers tend to act out these impulses through eating their own body parts. The sufferer would then experience pleasure, gratification, and relief during the time he commits the act. After the deed is done, the person might or might not feel guilty about the act.
Autophagia may start out as an impulse to relieve the anxiety to perform normally. Sufferers start to chew their fingernails first up until they fail to realize that they have already begun chipping off their fingers. Autophagia is sometimes seen in people suffering from schizophrenia and psychosis. Certain medical treatments can be done to alleviate the need to chew off one’s body part.
2. Riley-Day Syndrome
Riley-Day Syndrome is also known as Familial dysautonomia or hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy type III. This condition affects the autonomic nervous system wherein the person suffering tends to develop insensitivity to pain, inability to produce tears, frequent blood pressure problems, and poor growth. People with FD often have vomiting episodes and have inappropriate or even lack the perception of heat, pain, taste, and sometimes even emotion. They also suffer from very unstable blood pressure. Sometimes they suffer from hypertension or high blood pressure while at other times they suffer from postural hypertension or sudden lightheadedness due to a sudden change of position. People with FD do not have stunted intelligence. The condition was reported by Conrad Milton Riley and Richard Lawrence Day in 1949.
The incidence of FD is most common in Ashkenazi Jews. The condition is strictly genetically wherein both parents must be afflicted with FD in order for their child to develop the condition as well. Genetic counseling and genetic therapy are needed to prevent the onset of the condition. There have been approximately 600 records of diagnoses of people with Familial dysautonomia.
3. Munchausen Syndrome
Munchausen syndrome is a somatoform disorder in the DSM-5 classification. It is a psychiatric disorder wherein one who has affected acts or fakes illness or injury to draw attention and sympathy to themselves. It is also known as hospital addiction syndrome or hospital hopper syndrome. Most people affected by Munchausen syndrome frequent hospitals even at the slightest chance of injury. Most of them do not even have an injury at all. They simply want to feign an injury to promote a sense of sympathy from others and make them be wanted by society. They also try to tell everyone about how they have overcome such a disease in order to draw even more attention from others. Another form related to Munchausen syndrome is Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy. This form of Munchausen refers to the abuse of another person in order to seek attention and sympathy from the abuser. Most of the time, victims are children who are weak and helpless. The abuser tends to create a scenario wherein he comes out as the hero. Sometimes, the abuser ends up killing their victim.
The risk factors involved in Munchausen syndrome involve traumatic childhood, personality disorders, failed aspirations to work in the medical field, and low self-esteem. It is more common in men than in women and those who work in the medical field are more prone to developing it.
4. Cotard’s Syndrome
Cotard’s Syndrome or the Walking Corpse Syndrome is a condition wherein a person inflicted with this suffers from a delusion that they are either dead, do not exist, have lost their internal organs, or sometimes they think they are immortal. The syndrome comes from the person who discovered the disorder – Jules Cotard. He was a French neurologist in the 1880s who studied a patient named Madamoiselle X who believed that she does not have any internal organs and that she is damned for eternal life. She also believed that she does not need to eat. Eventually, she died of starvation.
Cotard’s syndrome is scientifically explained as the disconnection of the amygdala and the other limbic structures forcing the brain to rewire itself and perceive other people and objects as well as themselves to not feel their sense of self hence resulting in a sense of non-existence or damnation.
Patients with Cotard’s syndrome literally have lesions in the parietal lobe and have general brain atrophy or the shrinking of the brain. Treatment is done through the intensive medication of antidepressants and antipsychotics together with electroconvulsive therapy.
5. Stockholm Syndrome
Stockholm Syndrome is a famous psychological phenomenon that involves hostages expressing sympathy and positive feelings towards their captors. This was named after an incident in Stockholm, Sweden wherein the hostages of a bank robbery ended up becoming emotionally attached and defended to their captors. The condition can be seen as a form of traumatic bonding between two persons where one person who is intermittently harassed, beaten up, raped, or even as simple as being threatened begins to have an emotional bond with their aggressor.
It is also referred to as the Helsinki Syndrome. A condition with the exact reverse to Stockholm syndrome is the Lima Syndrome which came from the incident at Lima wherein the captors freed their hostages due to sympathy.
These psychological disorders can be treated with medication and therapy but most of them can be treated with an understanding of their condition. Most of the time, these disorders stem from childhood trauma and emotional baggage that was left unresolved.