Those with Capgras Syndrome may even believe that their pet or their sofa (or other inanimate object) has been replaced by an imposter!
Those suffering with this disorder may experience excessive amounts of anxiety and confusion as well as anger and aggressive behavior toward the perceived fake person or household item.
Imposter syndrome or Capgras delusion is named after French psychiatrist, Joseph Capgras and was first classified in 1923. It may be caused by brain damage or lesions on the brain, or by dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
When Every Day Is Halloween: Fregoli Syndrome
Fregoli Syndrome is slightly different from Capgras but similar.
Patients with the Fregoli delusion believe that the many people around them are actually the same person with lots of different disguises.
Imagine if your whole experience of the world felt like a flash mob but you were the only one not in on it. That’s what the Fregoli Syndrome feels like… but with a lot more paranoia and less dancing.
Fregoli syndrome was first discovered in 1927 when a woman thought her favorite actresses were disguising themselves as her friends, her employers, and even strangers around her. The doctors named the condition after a famous impersonator, Leopoldo Fregoli of Italy.
Nervous Much? 3 Major Stress Syndromes
Each disorder in this next set involves a reaction to stress, whether it’s emotional trauma or as extreme as brain injury. Sometimes stress can have an impact on our behavior and beliefs. Other times it can make us talk funny.
Mais, Oui, Monsieur: Foreign Accent Syndrome
If you’ve ever seen the episode of Friends when Ross teaches at NYU, you’re already familiar with this strange syndrome. In the episode, Ross gets so nervous on his first day as a professor that he slips into a sprightly British accent. And yes, that’s actually a thing . . . called Foreign Accent Syndrome.
In the real world this syndrome is a little different, though. It’s usually the result of brain damage caused by a stroke or injury.
The best known case of the syndrome was reported by a Norwegian neurologist, so it’s not surprising that the brain’s neurology is intimately involved in this disorder. In fact, unlike the silly case of Ross Gellar, people who actually have FAS don’t control their accent at all. It just starts coming out when they talk and remains involuntary.
This may inhibit their natural expression in some ways or confuse friends and family for a while. But at least they don’t have to keep up a gut-busting charade in front of a college classroom for nine months.
Sympathetic Tendencies: Lima Syndrome
We’ve all heard about Stockholm Syndrome, which is when hostage victims develop a fondness for their captors. But did you know this can also develop in the other direction?
Yes, that’s Lima Syndrome.
Lima Syndrome takes its name from a hostage situation in Peru where the abductor developed sympathy for the hostage in a 1996 terrorist takedown at the Japanese embassy. The abductors ended up releasing the hostages after only a few hours. One perpetrator even referred to a hostage as “my friend” in the process.
It makes sense that in the highly charged situation of hostage-taking, the perpetrators might develop some emotional baggage. Their hearts gallop. Hair bristles on their arms.
They are probably in this situation of taking a hostage because they feel out of control and are trying to regain a sense of agency. And this is exactly what the hostage feels – out of control.
No matter what judgments one might make about a criminal act, it’s most easily defined as the behavior of a human being in crisis. Emotions are at their peak and the criminal’s in a vulnerable state. It makes sense, then, that the hostage taker may start empathizing with their hostages, who are also incredibly vulnerable.
Messed up, but totally true.
The Green Demon: Mad Delusional Jealousy Syndrome
Othello Syndrome, also known as Delusional Jealousy Syndrome, takes infidelity paranoia to the extreme.
In Shakespeare’s tragic play Othello, themes of jealousy swirl around dramatic characters until tragic consequences spill like blood onstage. But in Othello Syndrome, this isn’t mere fiction and can result in very real and often bloody consequences.
The afflicted evolve from mere accusations to then isolating, interrogating, and even physically harming their lover. That happens with absolutely zero evidence of their partner’s infidelity. Those with the disorder are completely obsessed with the idea of their love cheating and can’t let go of this belief no matter what is actually happening.