The Top Ten Most Rare Mental Disorders

-By Sania Patel

Rare Mental Illnesses

Mental disorders describe a state in which a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, and behavior is affected. Mental illnesses are the corresponding health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking, or behavior. These effects can be short-term or chronic, depending on the type of disorder and treatment received. According to the American Psychiatric Association, nearly one in five (approximately 19 percent) of U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness. Of that number, another 4.1 percent suffer from a serious mental illness. Serious mental illnesses include mental, behavioral, or emotional disorders that result in serious functional impairment, which substantially interferes with or limits the performance of daily activities.

  1. Alice In Wonderland Syndrome:

    The Alice in Wonderland syndrome causes individuals temporary episodes of distorted perception and disorientation. Individuals with this condition often face instances where they feel smaller or larger than they really are or shifting surfaces and objects. These episodes, however, are not hallucinations; they are caused by damaged brain function. This syndrome often affects all the senses of an individual - hearing, touch, vision, et cetera. Time can also be distorted, causing instances to speed up or slow down. The syndrome usually only affects young adults, as most grow out of the condition by the time they reach adulthood.

  2. Erotomania:

    Also known as Clerambault Syndrome, Erotomania is a type of delusional disorder. It is a form of psychosis that leads individuals to believe that a figure who is not in their life - or even alive - is in love with them. It is common for the lover to be a public figure or celebrity, and, although this may sound common to many, this is different than the casual crush. Individuals with this condition have real, intimate feelings and, even, relationships with these people. They believe their lovers to be absolutely real. Other mental health conditions associated with Erotomania are Bipolar Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Alzheimer’s, and Schizophrenia. Some psychologists believe that social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube can exacerbate the condition, as it works to create a false sense of kinship and connection that the emotionally vulnerable attach to in their time of need.

  3. Alien Hand Syndrome:

    Alien Hand Syndrome is a neurological condition that causes an individual’s hand to act of its own free will. The hand acts completely free of the brain and will move independently and out of sync with the rest of the body. Often, people with this condition feel their hands are a foreign objects, thus contributing to the name of the syndrome. Some symptoms of this illness include the inability to control the hand, the affected hand trying to perform certain actions, the hand moving without cognitive input or awareness, engaging in self-optional tasks, and being uncooperative with tasks that require both hands. It is often caused by a neurodegenerative disease, brain aneurysms, cancer, or the development of a stroke, trauma, or tumor.

  4. Factitious Disorder:

    People with this condition deliberately attempt to fabricate signs of physical illness or injury to receive medical attention and care. In this case, there is no practical benefit to the individual’s behaviors, it is only done to receive attention. There are two types of Factitious Disorder. Self-imposed Factitious Disorder involves falsifying psychological or physical symptoms, while Factitious Disorder Imposed fabricates symptoms and another who is under their care. For example, a mother may harm their child to gain attention.

  5. Capgras Syndrome:

    This syndrome relates to Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Epilepsy, and Schizophrenia, as it is a symptom of these conditions. Also known as “imposter syndrome”, people with this condition believe that someone in their life has been replaced by an imposter. The cause of this condition is disputed, as it may be a neurological issue, caused by atrophy, lesions, or cerebral dysfunction; it may also be a combination of physical and cognitive changes.

  6. Apotemnophilia:

    This condition is known as a body integrity disorder or amputee identity disorder. Functioning as a neurological condition, the individual often feels an overwhelming desire to either amputate or damage healthy parts of the body. Also known as “self-demand amputation”, people want to become amputees themselves. The first scientific report of this case appeared in 1977, and the individual studied referred to the condition as a

    “pathological desire driven by sexual compulsion.”

  7. Stendhal Syndrome:

    This syndrome is used to describe anyone who experiences panic attacks, hallucinations, physical and emotional anxiety, and dissociative experiences when exposed to art. The syndrome was first coined in 1989 by an Italian psychiatrist, although reports of this condition date back to the 1800s.

  8. Visual Snow Syndrome:

    This condition describes an individual who faces visual static or persistent positive visual phenomena. In the entire field of vision, those who experience this condition will see continuous flickering white dots. The visual symptoms include floaters, flashes of light, compromised night vision, color swirls, sensitivity to light, and a consistent imprinted image. The non-visual symptoms involve migraines, tinnitus, vertigo, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and tremors.

  9. Folie a Deux:

    Also known as shared delusion or shared psychotic disorder, this condition occurs when a mentally stable person takes on the symptoms of someone close to them who is suffering from a psychotic disorder. The condition only tends to occur in long-term, intimate relationships, in which the partner is passive to the psychotic tendencies of the significant other. When there is close involvement with a psychotic person, one who deeply sympathizes with their suffering may, as a result, feel the pain their partner is feeling.

  10. Reduplicative Amnesia:

    This syndrome causes people to believe that they have been replaced with doubles - and not just people. In this case, people are convinced that either themselves, their friends, the environment, or the situation has been duplicated. People who suffer from this condition also have a history of brain tumors, brain injury, psychiatric disorders, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

    Overall, mental health disorders are vast and various. It is important to learn about mental health, as these illnesses and diseases may be researched further in the future.