RARE MENTAL DISORDERS — When we say “psychological disorder” it is referred to as what we knew as a psychiatric disorder or mental disorder. These mental issues are behavioral patterns that can affect different aspects of our lives.

But don’t worry, mental disorders are reversible and can be treated. With proper medication and therapy, you can get well. Read on and discover some of these rare mental conditions that you probably never heard about.

11 Rare Mental Disorders

Mental disorders such as depression and bipolar are frequently discussed. We don’t usually talk about some of the rarest mental conditions since these cases are extremely rare. Furthermore, the symptoms of these rare mental disorders are not mostly experienced by mental patients.

Here are examples of some of the rarest mental disorders that even experts find hard to explain. Some of these conditions might look odd and straight out of a fantasy book. Some have bizarre symptoms that can’t be explained by any psychological phenomena.

Prepare yourself mentally. For some might have freaky symptoms that can only happen in horror movies. But these conditions definitely exist in real life!

1. Multiple Personality Disorder or Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)

DID is defined by DSM 5 as a person having more than two distinct identities. Each with its own way to perceive the environment and self.

Their persona controls their identity at different times. These personalities are so distinct that they even have their own names, act, history, fashion style, and preferences.

Repeated childhood trauma can interrupt personality development and create other personalities. These made-up alter egos help the patient cope with the painful traumatic experiences.

Common Signs of DID:

Patients with dissociative disorder have difficulty coping with emotional stress. They have a sense of being detached from their selves and their emotions.

2. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive personality disorder sits under cluster-C of Personality Disorders by DSM 5. It is defined as a consistent chase for perfectionism, orderliness, and a need for pervasive interpersonal and mental control.

Do you know someone who is so obsessed with perfection? They are so devoted to getting the work done to the point of neglecting social relationships. The patient performs a repetitive ritual that fills their day that normal routine becomes impossible.

Common Signs of OCD:

Symptoms of this disorder include the repetitive urge to reorganize, clean, rearrange and check if everything is in order. Not giving in to their compulsions causes significant distress.

3. Histrionic Personality Disorder

HPD is found in the Personality Disorder Category of DSM 5 list of diagnoses. Patients with this personality disorder usually present dramatic and erratic behavior to gain attention.

These people are self-centered and pay too much attention to their physical appearance. Their mental image of themselves is distorted. They gain their self-esteem from the approval of others.

Though normal functioning in society is not affected by this type of disorder. But sometimes the manipulative skills of these persons with HPD can affect interpersonal relationships.

Common Signs of HPD:
  • People who are overly sensitive to disapproval and criticisms
  • Acts dramatically in front of a crowd, but with lacking sincerity
  • Exhibits inappropriate flirtatious behavior
  • Self-centered and does not care about others

4. Autocannibalism

Now we’re getting into the freaky areas of psychiatric disorders. Autocannibalism is not be recognized as a diagnosable mental health illness by DSM 5. It is a mental illness that is usually portrayed in horror movies. But it exists in the real world!

Commonly known as self-cannibalism, this is a rare mental disorder where the patient eats some parts of themselves.

Freaky? Wait till you learn that some of the symptoms of this disorder are being practiced by some people as a habit. Yes, you read it right. Nail-biting and chewing on the dead skin of your finger is a form of autocannibalism.

Extreme versions of this disorder include eating one’s skin scabs, hair, boogers, poop, and bodily discharges. Like OCD it also involves impulse control and is linked to depression and anxiety. Cognitive-behavioral therapy together with aversion can help with this kind of disorder.

Case study of Autocannabilism:

Health experts state that patients with a history of psychosis and drug use develop this kind of disorder. Hallucinations explain why these patients can’t resist eating themselves.

Common Signs of Autocannibalism:

People with this type of disorder are usually embarrassed by their behavior and withdraw from social interaction. Some have eating disorders and wounds all around the body that are at risk for infection.

5. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIWS) or Todd Syndrome is not recognized in the DSM 5. It is diagnosed through the presenting symptoms.

This disorder is characterized by distorted visual perception or also known as metamorphopsias. It is a related disorder with the movie “Alice in Wonderland” where Alice changes in body size by eating a cake. AIWS is a condition of visual hallucination is the perception of one’s body size, color, and shape.

AIWS is usually associated with brain injury and excessive use of antipsychotic drugs.

Common Signs of AIWS:
  • Loss of limb coordination and sensations
  • Distorted sensory perception
  • Hallucinations involving a group of animals

6. Alien Hand Syndrome

This mental disorder does not hold a spot in the DSM 5. It is another rare disorder where the patient’s hand acts differently and out of their control. It’s as if their hand has a mind of its own.

Alien hand syndrome is characterized by purposeful but involuntary movement of the hands. Some patient claims that their hand will try to drown or stab them. Experts are still trying to find out how to cure the symptoms.

This bizarre behavior is related to disturbances of brain function. Especially when the right parietal lobe is damaged. Which is the area of the brain that controls planning and spontaneous movement.

Common Signs of AHS:

The most common symptom of this disorder is the inability to control hand actions. The limb is considered a foreign part of the body.

7. Capgras Syndrome

Capgras delusion may not be directly dealt with in DSM 5, but falls under the delusional disorder.

Patients experience an irrational fear that a person they know is replaced by an imposter. They have this unshakeable delusion that the person that they use to know becomes suddenly unfamiliar.

Imposter syndrome often occurs to the patient with neurodegenerative conditions like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Also happens to people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Common Signs of Capgras Syndrome:

The most common symptom of Capgras syndrome is the belief that someone close to them is fake. Or has been replaced by someone who looks exactly the same.

8. Apotemnophilia

Apotemnophilia or also known as body integrity identity disorder is not included in the DSM 5 but can be found in ICD-11. It is another neurological disorder where the patient has an overwhelming desire to surgically cut away a healthy body part.

Apotemnophiles will usually find it difficult to get a surgeon to willingly amputate a healthy limb. But these patients are so desperate, that they will attempt extraordinary ways to damage the limb. They would crush a leg on the wood chipper or lose an arm with a chainsaw just to get rid of the unwanted body part.

Case Study of Apotemnophilia:

Some researchers found a link between apotemnophilia and inappropriate sexual behavior. Some patient considers their unwanted healthy limb as an erotic object and wanted it removed. Most people with apotemnophilia are almost always been sexually attracted to amputees.

Common Signs of Apotemnophilia:

A strong desire to destroy a part of their body to make them feel “complete”.

9. Cotard’s Delusion

Discovered by a French Psychiatrist in 1880, Cotard’s delusion is one of the scariest mental illnesses that ever existed. It is also not exactly listed in DSM 5 but falls under the categories of anxiety and schizophrenia.

This is also known as the walking corpse syndrome where the sufferer believes that they are deceased, or dying and out of existence.

Studies show that patients suffering from this disorder would refuse to eat or take medications. Some would even report having auditory hallucinations telling them that they are already dead.

Case study Cotard’s Delusion:

A case study of a man in Cajamarca was admitted after his reports of seeing blurred faces of dead people telling him that he was dying. The patient refused to eat saying that the food is rotten and wanted to see a priest confess his “great sins”.

Common Signs of Cotard’s Delusion:
  • Severe sadness and depression
  • Being insensitive to pain
  • A patient will stop doing daily activities such as speaking and eating
  • Having delusions to harm self

10. Paris Syndrome

This is also not specifically pointed out in DSM 5 but the signs and symptoms are present in some categories. Paris syndrome is considered another form of culture shock. This temporary phenomenon exclusively happens with Japanese nationals who visited Paris for the first time.

Aside from the usual language barrier, the disappointment with how Paris looks causes psychological distress. When the “City of Love” does not meet their mental expectations they meltdown.

Common Signs of Paris Syndrome:

Having a different variety of psychiatric symptoms after experiencing culture shock. With feelings of persecution from the hostility of others.

11. Stendhal Syndrome

Stendhal Syndrome is also not listed in DSM 5 as a mental health condition. But it is considered as one of the most peculiar conditions among other mental disorders. It is characterized by the feeling of being anxious and confused after being exposed to a large amount of artwork.

In extreme cases, the patient even experiences psychosomatic symptoms such as heart attack and hallucinations.

Common Symptoms of Stendhal Syndrome:

The main symptom of this disorder is the altered sensory of colors and sound. The patient has an unexplainable sickening feeling with beautiful art.

Other Rare Mental Disorders

  • Factitious Disorder or Munchausen Syndrome
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
  • Exploding Head Syndrome
  • Foreign Accent Syndrome
  • Conversion Disorder
  • Koro Syndrome

How Are Rare Mental Disorders Treated?

Most rare mental disorders can be treated by a combination of antipsychotic medications and therapy. These are patterns of behaviors collected through a person’s lifespan that can be corrected. 

What is the Most Serious Type of Mental Disorder?

All mental disorders are serious. Treatment depends on how long has the person been suffering from it. Psychotic disorders are treatable. With the right therapy, they can be on their road to recovery.

Final Thoughts

These are mental health issues can be scary and life-threatening. They can affect a person’s physical and emotional well-being. It is better to start the treatment sooner.

Rare mental disorders require medical professionals with specialization in this area. Kentucky Counseling Center has counselors with specialized training to deal with these kinds of disorders. You can schedule an appointment with us by clicking this link, KCC Direct Services.

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