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12 Quirky Mental Disorders You Haven’t Heard About

Think your behavioral antics are bizarre? Think again.

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May is Mental Health Awareness month aimed at stressing the importance of health and wellness in society and removing unwarranted stigmas associated with various psychological illnesses. Such exposure provides us with an opportunity to have meaningful dialogue about a topic many people know little about but often have much opinion. While most of us have heard about the most commonly discussed mental disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or schizophrenia, there are a number of unusual psychological conditions that are neglected by virtue of the fact that they are rare, bizarre or simply unknown.

Here is a list of not-so-common mental disorders that affect ordinary people, yet you probably haven’t read about them.

1. Walking Corpse Syndrome

No, this isn’t a disorder for those of us who have woken up feeling “dead tired.” Rather, Cotard’s Syndrome or Walking Corpse Syndrome as it's colloquially known, is a belief held by a person that she is actually dead, or simply doesn’t exist. It has been linked to depression as well as to those who are chronically deprived of sleep or suffer drug psychosis, but is still largely misunderstood by science.

The disorder has also been connected to Capgras Syndrome, a condition where a person thinks someone in her life has been replaced by an imposter or a duplicate. There is a division in the brain between the visual face recognition area and the part that associates emotional responses with that recognition, according to Psychology Today. Thus, a person suffering from either disorder may not even recognize herself and genuinely convinces herself that she doesn’t exist.

2. Alice In Wonderland Syndrome

Micropsia, nicknamed Alice In Wonderland Syndrome, is a visual neurological disease where a patient sees an object much, much smaller than it really is in real life, as if they were looking at the world “through the wrong end of a telescope” according to the Medical Journal of Psychiatry. The object perceived seems far away or in some cases extremely close at the same time, for example, a car may seem the size of a cat. The illness is not caused by any deficiency of the eye, but rather how the brain interprets the information received from the eyes. Migraines are said to be an important cause and feature of this disorder, which can also affect a person’s other senses such as hearing and touch. This illness is known to affect children aged between five and 10 and has also been linked to schizophrenia, psychoactive drugs and brain tumors.

3. Self-Cannibalism

While Hannibal Lecter enjoyed eating other people’s flesh, Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome is a disorder in which a person exhibits self-mutilating behavior or less commonly the consumption of his own body parts in a rare condition called autosarcophagy.  Lesch-Nyhan affects the joints, muscles and brain of the sufferer as a result of the overproduction of uric acid in the body, leading to compulsive lip and finger biting in the majority of cases. Consequently, in 60 percent of cases, patients have to have their teeth removed to prevent them from biting off their lips, cheeks and tongues. The condition, occurring almost exclusively in boys, has been related to impulse control disorders in general and can range from mild to life threatening.

4. Erotomania

Sure, we’ve all gone through that narcissistic phase, thinking a person is madly in love us when it just isn’t so, but sufferers of Erotomania take infatuation to the next level. Those who suffer from this mental disorder hold a delusional belief that a person generally from a high social status, like a celebrity, is madly in love with them and making advances toward them through special glances, signals, telepathy or messages through the media. The patient then returns the alleged affection by letters or attempting to visit the unsuspecting recipient. The scary part of this disorder is that the patient’s feeling is so overwhelming that even when the perceived lover directly denies any sentiment of affection or the advances are clearly unwanted, the person remains unconvinced. Thus, the delusion is difficult to break. The condition is often confused with “obsessive love," unrequited love or hypersexuality, but according to Princeton University these conditions do not constitute erotomania by definition.

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