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Mental Health Awareness: 7 Rare Psychiatric Disorders That You Probably Never Heard About

These are the rarest and most bizarre syndromes that many psychiatrists will not encounter in a single case in their professional lives.

Mental Health Awareness: 7 Rare Psychiatric Disorders You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

There are various psychological illnesses that are rare, uncommon, and difficult to accept. Most people are familiar with psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but some conditions are quite rare, and many psychiatrists may witness so few cases in their professional lives. Here Mark Griffiths from Nottingham Trent University reveals five of the rarest and most unusual syndromes known to psychiatry.

7 Rare Psychiatric Disorders You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Fregoli syndrome

Fregoli syndrome is when someone believes that different people are, in fact, the same person who simply changes their appearance. People with this syndrome often feel persecuted by those who believe they are in disguise. The disorder is named after Leopoldo Fregoli, an Italian stage actor who was known for his remarkable ability to rapidly change his appearance while on stage. Fregoli syndrome is when someone believes that different people are, in fact, the same person who simply changes their appearance. Fregoli syndrome usually occurs with other mental disorders, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It can also be caused by brain injury and the use of the drug levodopa in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.

cotard’s syndrome

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Cotard’s syndrome, also known as “walking corpse syndrome,” is when people have the delusional belief that they are dead and do not exist. Others believe that parts of the body are missing. In such a disease, people believe that they are dead and do not exist. The syndrome is named after the 19th century French neurologist Jules Cotard, who was the first to explain this condition. Schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder are risk factors for this syndrome. However, there is a very rare case of acycloir, an antiviral drug. The rare condition is usually treated with antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and electroconclusive therapy.

alien hand syndrome

One of the strangest neurological disorders in which the person feels that their hands have a mind of their own and acts autonomously. In this, the person feels that his hand does not belong to him. People with alien hand syndrome often have sensory processing disorders and dissociate from the actions of their hand. Causes of the syndrome include stroke, prison disease, tumors, and seizures.

ekbom syndrome

Ekbom syndrome is a tactile hallucination in which patients believe they are infested with parasites and often feel the insects crawling under their skin. Ekbom syndrome is when people believe they are infested with parasites, often experienced as insects crawling under the skin. The syndrome is named after Karl Ekbom, a Swedish neurologist who first described the condition in the late 1930s. Ekbom syndrome is associated with several conditions including organic brain disease, paranoid personality disorder, paranoid schizophrenia, and neurosis. Alcohol withdrawal, cocaine misuse, stroke, dementia, and damage to a part of the brain called the thalamus have been reported in some people.

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Alice Syndrome in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland syndrome, also known as Todd syndrome, refers to a distorted sense of body image, vision, hearing, touch, and space/time. People with the condition often experience objects as being smaller than they really are, while people appear larger than they really are. Or on the contrary: objects are perceived larger than they are and people seem smaller. These experiences may be accompanied by feelings of paranoia.

Other Mental Disorders You Don’t Know Exist


This is a delusional disorder in which a person thinks that someone of a higher status is probably in love with them. This is felt through special signals, looks, and even telepathy. The feeling is so strong that even if the delusional lover can deny any feeling, the patient is still not convinced and thinks it may be an attempt to hide her love from her world.

Capgras syndrome

Capgras is a mental condition where you feel like someone close to you has been replaced by an identical impostor. People with this disorder feel that their reality has been replaced. It occurs more commonly in women than men and can occur due to age, migraine, or any other brain disorder.


This disorder can cause the person to mistake a sensory stimulus for another sense. This type of confusion between the senses can cause people to associate sounds with colours, tastes, smells with visions or all of them together, resulting in what is often called “meeting of the senses”.

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Published Date: May 29, 2023 2:49 PM IST

Updated Date: May 29, 2023 3:06 PM IST




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