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Rare Mental Disorders You Probably Haven't Heard Of

Updated on March 10, 2020
Margaret Pan profile image

Margaret is passionate about anything regarding mental health and continuously tries to learn as much as possible about this field.

What Is a Mental Disorder?

A mental disorder, also called mental illness or psychiatric disorder, refers to a wide range of health conditions which involve changes in thinking, emotions or behavior. They can cause significant distress or impairment of personal functioning while their treatment is usually difficult and tricky. The most common ones include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and dementia. Most of us have heard them or even met a person suffering from one. However, there are other mental disorders which are extremely rare and unknown to the majority of people. Below is a list of the most rare mental disorders, the existence of which you would probably have never even imagined.

Capgras Syndrome

This psychiatric condition makes a person have the delusional belief that one of their relatives, close friends or even pets(!) has been replaced by an identical imposter. Moreover, this imposter is considered by the suffering individuals dangerous and possibly willing to harm them. It usually affects individuals who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer's, schizophrenia and more rarely patients who have undergone brain surgery.


Stendhal Syndrome/Hyperkulturemia

Visiting an art gallery is perceived by most people a pleasant and entertaining activity. However, when it comes to individuals suffering from Stendhal syndrome, it can become a trigger for an "art attack". This mental disorder, also known as hyperkulturemia, is a psychosomatic syndrome, named after the 19th century French author Henri-Marie Beyle (1783–1842). It is triggered when individuals are exposed to artworks of great beauty, concentrated in one single place. Its symptoms include rapid heartbeat, fainting and hallucinations.


Alien Hand Syndrome (AHS)

Individuals diagnosed with this rare mental disorder have the illusion that one of their hands has a mind of its own. More specifically, they lose control of one of their hands -in most cases reported,the left one - and reach for objects or manipulate them unwittingly. This syndrome usually develops after corpus callosotomy (surgical procedure during which the true hemispheres of the brain are separated) and in some cases after brain surgery, strokes and degenerative brain conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.


Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Just as Alice in Carroll Lewis's novel, individuals suffering from this syndrome see objects smaller or larger than they actually are, hear sounds louder or quieter than they normally are and may even lose sense of velocity, textures and shapes. The most prevalent syndrome however, is altered image of the individuals' own bodies,since they get delusional images in regards to the shape and size of parts of their bodies. In most cases, Alice in Wonderland syndrome affects people who have underwent brain surgery, have a brain tumor or are under the use of psychoactive drugs.


Factitious Disorder

Most of us hate the idea of getting sick and do everything we can in order to prevent it: working out, a healthy nutrition, vitamins and more. However, there are people that love being sick - they are actually obsessed with it, and make themselves intentionally ill so that they receive treatment. They can contaminate urine samples, take hallucinogenics or inject fecal material for the sole purpose of attaining a patient's role. All of the above refer to people with factitious disorder, a condition that affects less than 4% of the general population and unfortunately has no cure. Nevertheless, it can be limited through psychotherapy.


Boanthropy/Clinical Lycanthropy

These two mental disorders are similar and both extremely rare. People suffering from boanthropy believe they are cows and behave as such. That includes walking on all fours and chewing grass without realizing it. On the other hand, individuals diagnosed with clinical lycanthropy have the belief that can turn to wolves or werewolves. Thus, they begin behaving like ones, and can often be found living or hiding in forests



When faced with tough, life-changing decisions, it is normal for anyone to have difficulties in making a choice. Nonetheless, when it comes to people with aboulomania, even the simplest choice can transform into a nightmare. This psychiatric disorder, also known as chronic indecision, originates from an individual's urgent will to be perfectly accurate. When faced with life choices as simple as going for a walk, bying a pair of jeans or picking a place to eat, people suffering from it can become paralyzed due to their inability to decide and fulfill their will. Research has not been conclusive on what triggers this peculiar disorder.


Diogenes Syndrome

This mental illness is named after the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope and is common among the elderly, people with dementia and individuals who have been abandoned at some points in their lives. It is commonly referred to as "hoarding" and it consists of an overwhelming desire to collect random things and form an emotional attachment to them. What it more, patients diagnosed with this syndrome also exhibit self neglect, social withdrawal and extreme apathy toward themselves or other people. Behavioral treatment and psychotherapy can significantly improve an individual's situation.


Multiple Personality Disorder

For me personally, multiple personality disorder, also known as dissociative identity disorder, is one of the world's most fascinating and complicated mental disorders and that's why I saved it for last. Individuals who suffer from it, maintain at least two -usually more- completely distinct personality states and have trouble remembering which events took place at each state. They can switch from one identity to another at any time and without warning and may also remain as one for a certain amount of hours, weeks , months or even years.


Which of the Above Mentioned Disorders Did You Find Most Weird?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Margaret Pan


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    • Margaret Pan profile imageAUTHOR

      Margaret Pan 

      2 months ago from Athens

      Thank you!

    • Bushra Iqbal profile image

      Aishatu Ali 

      2 months ago from Rabwah, Pakistan



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