We all see the world differently, but some see the world through a lens very different than the rest of us. Delusional misidentification syndrome is an umbrella term for a group of disorders that presents in the form of a mental or neurological illness. They all involve a belief that the identity of a person, location or object has somehow been changed. There is considerable evidence that these disorders are associated with problems with face perception and recognition. Though for some the true cause is still unknown. While study is being conducted in all these areas, usually doctors have to sift through other disorders and illnesses. This makes progress very slow and leaves room for a lot of debate.
Imagine looking into the eyes of someone close to you and not recognizing them. They look and behave the same, but you still see them as a stranger. Capgras syndrome is a disorder in which a person believes one or more people in there lives has been replaced by at least one imposter. The disorder is often associated with, though not exclusive to, schizophrenia. A head trauma at some point in a persons life may also contribute to the condition. Originally this was believed to only effect women and was considered a form of hysteria. Now it is understood that both genders can suffer from this, though cases in women are more common. No one really knows what causes this condition and studies are being conducted to determine the source. While people will sometimes recover on their own, there is no cure. Cognitive-Behavioural therapy is recommended along with medication.
People who suffer from prosopagnosia, or face blindness, can see a face multiple times and still not know who it is. Depending upon the severity of the impairment, some people may only have difficulty recognizing a familiar face. Others will be unable to differentiate between unknown faces, while still others may not be able to distinguish a face from an object. People with this condition have some physical changes when shown a picture of someone they know. Part of their brain recognizes this person emotionally, even if consciously they can't tell who it is.
This is disorder can be caused by one of two things. The most common is damage to the right fusiform gyrus, a fold in the brain that is believed to control the neural systems that manage facial perception and memory. This damage occurs more often in adults than children. The second cause is congenital, a person never develops the ability to recognize individual faces. In this case the disorder appears to run in families. To cope with this people will learn to utilize other cues to determine who a person is. Such as voice, a persons gate, body shape and a number of other identifying characteristics.
Fregoli syndrome is a disorder in which a person believes that one or more people repeatedly change their appearance in-order to stalk them. The "stalker" can take on the persona of anyone they know or have just met. While every meeting is not seen as an encounter with the "stalker", the potential is always there. This syndrome has often been discussed as a variant of Capgras syndrome, but these two conditions present differently in perception and distribution between age and gender. People who have schizophrenia can also suffer from this disorder, but it is usually limited to paranoid version of this illness.
The Cotard delusion is a rare mental illness in which a person holds the belief that he or she is dead. This condition ranges in severity and can include the delusion that they do not exist, they are putrefying, and the belief of losing blood or internal organs, sometimes both. This condition can also lead to the delusion of immortality. A person with this disorder may no longer feel the need to participate "living concerns" and may stop eating or drinking.
Cotard's syndrome usually is found in people suffering from a psychosis of some sort. There is also evidence that certain medications can trigger this illness. Though rare, surviving a brain injury or a traumatic experience can cause this condition as well. There is no true cure for the illness and a range of medications and therapy are required to insure that a person will not harm themselves.
Alien Hand Syndrome
This is a neurological disorder in which a person loses control of their hand. People who suffer from this condition are usually not aware of what their hand is doing until they see it or it attacks them. There are times when the hand will actively fight with the person over simple tasks; such as reading a book or flipping a light switch. More than one person has reported near accidents while driving due to the offending hand. People who suffer from this disorder describe it as not being their hand and some have resorted to self amputation.
This condition can result from a specific brain surgery, the treatment in the worst cases of epilepsy. This disorder can also occur from the result of head trauma or stroke. It is believed that the lack of communication between the two sides of the brain are the cause, but there is still debate. There is no treatment for this condition and the best way people have found to try to cope is to simply to occupy the hand.
Mirrored self-misidentification is the belief that a persons reflection in a mirror is someone else. The reflection can be believed to be just about anyone, from a different version of themselves to someone who is following them around. This disorder is often found within those who have dementia, alzheimers or schizophrenia. It can also be caused by traumatic brain injury, stroke, or neurological illness. The exact number of people suffering from this disorder is unknown. This is because people with this condition often suffer from multiple other illnesses as well. Study is underway to form a better understanding of this disorder. Though research is slow going, progress is being made.
© 2014 Katrina