From the common to the unfathomable, this list of Bizarre Mental Disorders. And believe it or not, you've seen most of them before. How else would shows like Grey's Anatomy, C.S.I., Scrubs and even Seinfeld and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia keep you guessing like they do?
No. 1 - Cotard's Syndrome, A.K.A. "Walking Corpse Syndrome"
If you've ever felt dead tired, and/or you've said something like "God, I just wish I was dead!", this may be just the disorder for you.
Cotard's Syndrome is appropriately nicknamed "Walking Corpse Syndrome" because someone afflicted with it really seriously and truly believes that they are dead, they do not exist, or they've had all their blood or organs removed. Ya know, cause that just happens to all of us every day.
Cotard's is thought to be related to Capgras's Syndrome (a disorder in which the sufferer holds the honest belief that someone in their life has been replaced with an imposter or a duplicate of some sort) neurologically speaking, because both seem to signify a disconnect between the area of the brain that recognizes faces, and the area of the brain that is able to associate emotions with that very recognition (wow, men should really consider using this more often as an excuse for not recognizing a past One Night Stand). Because of this, someone suffering from Cotard's may not even recognize themselves when they look in the mirror and will begin to distance themselves emotionally, convincing themselves that they don't exist, or that they have died.
Of course, Benjamin Franklin said, "Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes," but at least there's no disorder where you think you're doing your taxes day in and day out. Well … we can hope.
No. 2 - Body Identity Integrity Disorder
Some people are always making things more difficult. Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) is a disorder that causes our sufferer to have an overwhelming feeling that life would be so much better as an amputee. I know, we all get that feeling sometimes. But for those with BIID, the feeling is accompanied by the actual urge to amputate one or more healthy limbs to actually follow through on those feelings.
The exact cause of BIID is yet to be discovered, though neurologically speaking it could be linked with somatoparaphrenia, which results from damage to the parietal lobe after a stroke. If this belief is correct (and studies have not proven conclusively that it is just yet), the cure would be something called "vestibular caloric stimulation," which is basically just a shock of cold water to the ear (this is a common technique, also to test the response of comatose patients).
No. 3 - Synesthesia
No, this isn't the gas they give you to put you sleep pre-op (although we don't fault you for thinking it is). Synesthesia is a disorder resulting in the sufferer experiencing an alternate sense as a result of the first sense. And speaking of sense, that sentence might not have made any to you. Let's break it down.
Think of it this way: when that guy at the frat party said "Woooooah duuuude ... the phone number this chick gave me tastes like strawberries!", it doesn't necessarily mean he licked the paper. It could mean he has Synesthesia, and he's experiencing the sense of sight as the sense of taste. Synesthesia is (as you probably guessed) basically results from your neural "wires" getting crossed. But it's hardly ever a bad thing; in fact, it usually results in a deeper "understanding" of art, or a different perception of something that already exists. Some peeps you may know who "suffered" from the disorder are Duke Ellington, Pharrell Williams(this isn't verified per se, but it's said to be the inspirational idea behind Seeing Sounds), and John Mayer — and that's just on the musical side.
So next time you see someone wearing a really "loud" shirt (think Lounge Lizards and their Hawaiian shirt obsession), consider asking them to turn down the volume. They may not understand — but if they have Synesthesia, they just may.
No. 4 - Windigo Psychosis
Sure, we all remember when Sweet Dee and Charlie turned into cannibals on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but what you don't know, is that they displayed symptoms of a disorder called Windigo Psychosis.
Windigo Psychosis is a disorder involving an insatiable craving for human flesh, coupled with the fear of becoming a cannibal. Um, if you have the first, it might be too late to worry about the second.
In Algonquin mythology, the Wendigo is a cannibalistic spirit that had the ability to possess humans (and human forms); you hardcore D&Ders out there may even recognize the Wendigo character.
So it's pretty safe to say, this disorder does not seem to be entirely neurological. It spans everything from the spiritual to the physical (the extreme hunger gets your tummy a-rumblin'!), but the one thing it doesn't seem to affect is, as Homer Simpson says, "Braaaaaains! Braaaaains! Delicious Braaaains!"
No. 5 - Genital Retraction Syndrome
Genital Retraction Syndrome (GRS) is so much more than what George Costanza would call "shrinkage."
Those suffering from GRS are overcome with the fear they they're external genitals (and an added bonus for the ladies: this includes the breasts) are actually shrinking, and/or retracting into the body to the point of complete disappearance. In Southeast Asia, that fear alone is not enough for them; "Koro" describes this disorder as having the aforementioned fears, but adding on the additional fear that this retraction will actually result in their untimely death — and no, we don't just mean the death of their sex life.
This isn't one of those one-in-a-million things either; "penis panic" (besides being what is likely to be the best band name EVER) is a mass hysteria event cause by large numbers of people in a certain population comin' down with GRS.
The cure for GRS is a lot simpler than you would imagine, so stick with us here: you sit them down, and you explain to them that this retraction is not possible. Wow … how are break-ups more difficult than curing GRS?
No. 6 - Foreign Accent Syndrome
And you thought Madonna was just pretentious.
Typically as a result of a severe brain injury (a stroke or severe head trauma), Foreign Accent Syndrome (FAS) has the sufferer speaking with a new-found accent uncharacteristic of their origin. Usually an American will take on a British accent, and a Brit will take on something similar to a New York accent (talk about a downgrade). On the Discovery show Mystery E.R., you'll find the story of Cindy Lou Romberg of Washington, who had suffered an injury to her brain as a result of a simple visit to the chiropractor; after fully developing FAS, Cindy began speaking with a Russian accent so convincing, that she even made grammatical mistakes that seemed to indicate English was not her native language.
So ladies, keep in mind&58; when a guy uses a really fake accent on you when trying to hit on you at the bar, he may actually be suffering from FAS. At least, that's what he'll hope you're thinking.
No. 7 - Trichotillomania
If you've ever felt so stressed you just wanna pull your hair out, we hope it's only a passing fancy.
Trichotillomania (TTM) is a disorder that results in our sufferer feeling the urge to literally pull their hair out; scalp hair, facial hair, eyelashes, even pubic hair.
Because of the habitual nature of this disorder, TTM is closely associated with OCD, a much more common disorder. As with OCD, TTM is explained to be a compulsive disorder that somehow brings comfort to those afflicted with it by performing this hair-pulling ritual; some sufferers even tend to consume the hair they pull out, which typically results in "Rapunzel Syndrome" (the stomach's inability to break down and digest human hair kinda tends to back things up). As if the habitual hair rippage wasn't enough, the consumption of it causes intestinal problems.
No. 8 - Mary Hart Syndrome
She may not be one of those people with a voice only dogs can hear … but she is one of those people with a voice that can induce a seizure.
In 1991, a woman who remains unidentified fell into seizures at the mere sound of Mary Hart's voice. Mary Hart, who co-hosts Entertainment Tonight, was clearly given the gift of gab; but for some people, this is not the kind of gab they want to have any part of. Perhaps a more famous instance of someone suffering from MHS is Cosmo Kramer, whose first-hand account explained, "Suddenly I got dizzy and the next thing you know I hit my head on the coffee table." If only there had been a coffee table book about coffee tables to soften his fall.
It has long been explained that television can be hazardous to your health—but this would be the first documented case of "sound induced" epileptic fits from television. Instead of TV, we suggest reading a good book. Unless Seinfeld is on. Then all bets are off.
No. 9 - Paris Syndrome
Judging solely by the name of this disorder (and the infamous Ms. Hilton), you're probably assuming this is a "social" disease … but au contraire, mes amis!
Paris Syndrome is a very exclusive disorder, reserved solely for Japanese tourists traveling to (where else?) Paris, France. Essentially, these tourists suffer from extreme culture shock, brought on largely by the confrontation of actual Paris as compared to their idealized, pop-culture induced view of Paris (um, clearly they have never seen An American Werewolf in Paris). As a result, the inability to separate their expected view of Paris and the actual view of Paris causes a literal mental breakdown. Although in truth, we firmly believe it's the overstimulation of hilarity brought on by Jerry Lewis.
If you think this is a joke, it's totally not; at least a dozen Japanese tourists suffer this illness per year. And believe it or not, the Japanese embassy actually has a hotline open 24 hours that provides emergency help, complete with hospital treatment if necessary.
Of course, you'll probably never hear any of these guys utter "Well always have Paris."
No. 10 - Jumping Frenchmen of Maine
The jury may still be out on whether or not this disorder is neurological or psychological, but if the jury consists of French-Canadian lumberjacks, they may not even know what you're talking about. Kind of like you're probably feeling right now.
The Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is a disorder that brings on an extreme response to a startling noise or sight. Upon this startling, people with TJFOM would flail their arms wildly, repeat back phrases or words uncontrollably, and have even been known to do anything on sudden command … and we do mean anything. Proving, of course, that Canadians and French really do have the "rude" market cornered. Even if those afflicted with the disorder are largely located in Maine.
TJFOM is also said to be strongly linked to Tourette's, another disorder causing nonsensical (and perhaps less *ahem* appropriate) outbursts. However, studies have shown that TJFOM may be a result of the lumberjacks' worksites, and therefore not a neurological disorder. When push comes to shove, however, weâ€™re pretty sure the actual jumping Frenchmen of Maine would just respond with "I'm a lumberjack and I'm ok." And we can't say that we blame them. But we can say that we'll never attempt to startle their hiccups out of them.