Psychologists Describe The Most Interesting Mental Disorders They've Ever Encountered
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*The following article contains discussion of suicide/self-harm.

The study of mental health is an ongoing one, as we've all become more sensitive and aware of what's going on in our minds.

Talk to someone if you need help, absolutely, but there is still the side of psychology professionals are trying to understand.

Sometimes the clients they handled were so interesting they walked away unable to forget them.

Reddit user, Alex_Bailey_12, wanted to hear about some of the more fascinating cases when they asked:

"[Serious] Psychologists of Reddit, what’s the most interesting mental disorder you’ve encountered?"

Imagine not being in control of your body, the movements and processes you take for granted every day, and unable to trust what you see in front of you.

Pretty Hair, Pretty Hair

"A psychologist here. Not someone I worked with, but I did observe someone with Alien hand syndrome. The patients left hand would stroke her hair and pat her face but was not under her control. Each episode would last for about 20 mins. Turned out the cause was a tumour. Amazingly it didn’t seem to cause her any distress."


Speaking A Language We've Never Known

"Foreign Accent Syndrome is rare but is absolutely fascinating."


"Ah yes, my parents have a friend, Native American, never left Canada, got into a bad fight one night and got her head rocked pretty badly and was knocked out, when she regained consciousness she had an English accent and to this day she still has it."


Are The People There Really Even There?

"Mental health counsellor here, the interesting one is schizophrenia with visual hallucinations. Most people with schizophrenia have auditory hallucinations. I did not realize how much more unsettling the visual one is. The client I had with this disorder used to see me and other people he knew. He called me up once yelling at me for coming into his apartment early in the morning. Even if I told him otherwise, the experience of seeing me is very real to him. I can't imagine seeing people in my own home, especially at night. That would freak me the f-ck out."


"Lawyer here, did about 10 yrars criminal law. I've had many clients with schizophrenia. Auditory hallucinations must be disconcerting and terrifying, visual would also be awful but the oddest one I've come across was olfactory delusions."

"Client who had a psychotic break and had a range of hallucinations telling her to hire a car and drive across the country asap. She was arrested doing 180 km/hour through a country town (speed limit 60 km/hour) on a major highway. When I came down to see her, she was obviously unwell - but she also kept sniffing my hand any time I asked her a question."

"Later, when she was well again, she explained it to me - she remembered everything even though she had no history of mental illness prior to this time. Everyone "bad" (ie all the police officers) smelled like rotting corpses to her at that time, but "I knew I could trust you, because you smelled like sunshine and flowers." This stopped along with her other hallucinations when she came out of psychosis. I never knew before then that delusional smells were also possible."


Yet, as we go further down the list, we see the symptoms and diagnoses start to become a little more severe, affecting more than just our bodies but our minds.

Too Much Positivity Is A Negativity

"I once worked with a guy whose voices were positive, like a cheer squad. So instead of “you’re useless, no one likes you”, his voices said “you look amazing today, people think you’re charming and funny”."

"It wasn’t great though. He has enough insight to understand that they were as much a hallucination as if they were giving negative messages. And he felt this crushing, overwhelming pressure that he couldn’t live up to the incredibly high standards of his voices. It was quite crippling for him, really. As much as, if not more so, than if the voices were negative or even benign."


All. About. ME.

"Early on in my career I worked at a Planned Community that functioned as a Partial Hospitalization Program."

"One of the residents would bring magazines and newspapers he'd found to the main office door everyday. Sometimes he'd be upset, sometimes overjoyed, depending on the stories. Because all of them were about him."

"I've never worked with someone with such delusions before or sense. One day he was Michael Jordan offering to buy us cars, the next he was Osama Bin Laden trying to hide with us. He'd read his obituary, his wife cheated on him in a political scandal, he'd surveyed the Congo."

"We restricted and sorted his mail after the Bin Laden incident, but he'd find other residents' or in the community."


Half n' Half

"Hemineglect is a pretty interesting one. The affected person just doesn't realize that they have two halves to their body and only take care of one. Shave one side of their face, brush their hair on that side, wash themselves on that side, and the other side basically becomes dirty mountain man."


The mind is fragile. Never take it for granted.

Not Who They Say They Are

"Medical doctor here (neurologist)... Capgras delusion."

"The patient is convinced that a family member has been replaced by an imposter who is completely identical."

"For example, the patient will tell you the person sitting across from them looks exactly like their spouse, sounds exactly like their spouse, has all the memories of their spouse. But... "that's not actually my spouse"."

"And the patient oftentimes isn't overly distressed by this imposter."

"In 20 years I've only seen the condition twice."


"Ah, I was also going to write about the capgras delusion case I had a few years ago. In this instance it was a mother who was under the false belief that her son was a "clone." We had some success with atypical antipsychotics and I helped her focus her energy on being a good mother to the kid whether it was hers or not, because she could agree that the child was innocent and needed a loving home. Family support was also crucial."


An Inexplicable Link

"Phantom pregnancies are pretty fascinating. A woman can be so convinced that she is pregnant that her periods stop, she gets all the classic symptoms, and her belly might even grow. Nobody is totally sure how this happens."

"Also Share Psychosis is pretty crazy. There was a case a few years ago where twin sisters visited each other. One was mentally ill, the other not. And the ill one went into a psychotic state and then the healthy twin suddenly, for no reason, went into the same psychotic state. They threw themselves into traffic multiple times getting hit by trucks. After being separated at the hospital, the healthy twin snapped out of her psychosis and was fine. The other one stayed in her psychosis and ended up killing someone with a hammer and neither of them remembered anything that happened."


Always Looking For Something Wrong

"Medical doctor here, not a psychiatrist or psychologist but I did encounter a pretty interesting patient case on my psychiatry rotation when I was in medical school:"

"There was a patient at an inpatient psychiatric facility for suicidal ideation. During her admission, she constantly insisted that she had a mass on her breasts and demanded to be physically examined only by male doctors. When the psychiatrist I was rotating under declined to perform a physical exam, she asked me to do it during my daily patient interview. I also declined physical exam, but had a bit of a hunch to check her medical records."

"It turned out she had an ultrasound done a week before that found only normal breast tissue without masses. However, apparently this this lady had frequented many doctor's offices with various complaints of an unspecific nature and would usually focus on breasts or vaginal complaints when she visited male physician's offices."

"The psychiatrist I was working with diagnosed her with factitious disorder (formerly known as Munchausen syndrome) and also felt she had a personality disorder; he felt it was histrionic personality disorder but also felt it was possibly borderline personality disorder (definitely cluster B though). It seems her goal was mostly attention from medical professionals (she had lots of issues), but we also had to be careful to make sure she wasn't fishing for a lawsuit. Patients like her are why doctors document everything meticulously."

"So the patient wouldn't admit to making things up all the time. According to the psychiatrist I was working with, she didn't actually believe any of her "health problems" exist and her primary goal was the attention from medical professionals. If she actually believed she was sick, we would have diagnosed her with illness anxiety disorder, commonly known as hypochondria."


If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at

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