The human mind is a powerful, beautiful, terrifying thing. It's capable of some incredible stuff when it's working exactly as expected, but when starts to do the unexpected, that's when things get really interesting. The mind is capable of fake pregnancies, feeling limbs you don't have, "seeing" from eyes that you no longer have (speaking from personal experience on that one) and so much more.
One Reddit user asked:
Psychologists/Psychiatrists of Reddit: What Was The Most Interesting Case You Have Seen Or Heard?
Here are some of the most interesting responses. Content may have been edited for clarity.
I volunteered in a homeless crisis drop in centre which was full of people with mental health issues. The most interesting one was this women who had an obsession with water. I believe it was called Angelman Syndrome.
She was homeless because her condition made her unable to work and she was unable to stay in housing commissions because every house she had stayed at she had flooded. Meaning she would just plug up the sinks and let the water run. She would come in daily to wash her clothes and use the shower facilities but she would never dry herself or her cloths. She also came up to me one time and asked if I could fill up a container or bucket to take with her back her her camp site. Nice woman but a strange one.
Working For The WeekendsGiphy
My Adult Psychopathology professor talked about the one and only case of genuine Disassociate Identity Disorder he'd ever encountered in his 35 year practice. A woman was a group home worker for kids with mental health issues, a christian, relatively conservative, and concerned that she was finding skimpy underwear in her closet and car.
Turned out her alternate personality was stripping.
During my psych rotation in medical school, I had the pleasure of meeting a man who cut his own penis off. He was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia. It's rare for those two illnesses to be diagnosed together, and so in my limited psych experience, that was the most interesting case.
One of my professors in undergrad told us a story about a client that he worked with who became convinced that Celine Dion owed him a million dollars, and tried to murder his brother the week after a Celine Dion concert (that neither of them attended) because he became convinced that his brother had met with Celine Dion and stolen the money. This is a fun field.
Exploding Head SyndromeGiphy
I work in the mental health field. A woman I knew couldn't fall asleep naturally due to exploding head syndrome - a condition where you hear loud noises like explosions, bombs, loud thunder, a slamming door etc. in your head. So she drank heavily to get herself to blackout just for relief. She could be a real mean bugger, but who could blame her?
A decade without being able to get a decent night's rest? She was nearly continually suicidal because of it. Stayed alive because she loved her dog so darn much. Animals are amazing and we don't deserve them. Anyway, don't know how she's doing currently, but her body was starting to fail from the alcoholism, and likely the lack of quality rest.
Hurting Her Kids For AttentionGiphy
Not psychologist. Social worker here who spent two years with a family as their support worker. I suspected munchausen by proxy as kids were constantly sick and she quite enjoyed the attention it got her. Trouble is, no one believed me - or should I say could do anything because all sicknesses had been diagnosed by doctors. She was constantly at doctors, so from a child protection perspective it was hard to find cause of neglect which would've then allowed an investigation and a mandatory psych evaluation. The most telling feature was that she thrived when she would tell me that her kids are sick. This weird, almost grinning/smirking face when she'd tell me that doctors told her her child is suffering from ... whatever it was. I always felt uneasy. In hindsight, I had to watch three kids suffer through so much medical intervention. Above I said they were diagnosed by doctor. This is because the children arrive with presenting issues, something that she was able to manipulate.
It all came to blows when her last child was born early and stayed in hospital for a bit. A month tops. Baby was tiny but healthy. No issues when she left. Next week baby has respiratory issues, allergies (like older sibling). This launched a report of concern. They investigated and interviewed oldest child (Age 6, adhd, speech impediment) The right questions were asked which ended with the kids being removed and put into an alternative family member's care. The kids went from weekly doctor visits to almost nothing. Child who was allergic to peanuts and dairy wasn't actually. Baby didn't suffer another respiratory issue. It was crazy how this is really uncharted territory. In my job you have to prove neglect or abuse before more action can be taken... But how do you do that when a mother takes her kids to the doctors? Hospital? Presenting your kids and telling an on-call doctor with no notes that your child has allergies they just have to note that and believe a mother because why would she lie about it right?
Was Any Of It True?Giphy
My "most interesting" case is actually one that just bothers me years later. In grad school I worked at a free clinic for homeless people. During my rotation there I started seeing this man who had recently gotten out of prison (13 years). He'd been convicted of drug crimes. Shortly after he'd being sent to prison his mother died and he was unable to attend her funeral. During the 13 years both his father and only sister also died. He reported extreme guilt over their deaths (particularly his mothers). Our early work was CBT-based and focused mainly on his guilt. His symptoms started to improve and he started going to church. Through the church he met a woman who allowed him to rent a room in her house. He got on food stamps and started cooking. He met a woman who he started dating. He found a job at a lumber yard and even did deliveries. He was doing much better. One day he gave me a business card from the lumber mill. He wrote his name on the back and told me that if I had any clients who were reliable, to give them the card and mention his name, that he'd get them a job there.
He stopped coming to sessions a couple weeks later. Eventually I gave his card to a client who was doing well and looking for work. The next week that client came in and told me that he'd called, but that the company had never heard of the guy. I decided to google him and found nothing, not even his arrest or sentencing. To this day I have no idea if anything he told me was true.
During a psych rotation in nursing school we got to go to a meeting where they talked about cases they needed help diagnosing. They were talking about a kid (12ish years old) who acted like a zombie or a wild animal. All of the sudden he would snap and bite people in the room, and growl and run around on all fours. I guess he bit his cousin and his cousin started acting like this too (same ish age).
I think he told the therapists that he had some big secret that was eating at him or causing stress at school (of course the joke passed around was "his secret is that he got bit by a zombie or a werewolf"). The therapists believe its something to do with sexuality, like his discovery of being gay. In any case, this kid was out of control, biting and scratching people.
Eventually the team sort of decided on a diagnosis of conversion disorder. Conversion disorder isnt super well understood, but they believe it is brought on by extreme stress in many cases. It can cause people to have pseudo-seizures, numbness, paralysis, weakness, etc. But having symptoms like this kid had is very weird and rare for this disorder. They think the cousin started doing the same thing for attention.
Aware He Was SufferingGiphy
My most interesting person was a young man probably around his early twenties who had schizophrenia and anger and violence problems. He was a candidate to go to one of the state run psychiatric hospitals. He was the type that would do things like self harm acts. My heart really broke for him because he would constantly say he would hurt himself because he didn't want to hurt another person from his anger or violence issues, he wanted to be in the facility to get help and be safe.
Not many people know what is going on with them is not normal or they try to act like nothing is wrong. But he was aware of his mental illness even though it was probably the most severe case I saw. His file was probably two inches thick that was just notes on his previous visits (this place used paper still not computers).
"I Don't Even Have A Favorite Color"Giphy
Background: My mother had graduated top of her class , she had always been an outstanding student and was a respiratory therapist. At the age of 35 she started drinking , she was a SEVERE alcoholic for the next ten years. In that time she developed Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome , also known as ''Wet Brain''. This presented itself in only what I can describe as seemingly possessed. She wouldn't eat for days , I often found her crawling on all fours through the kitchen opening cabinets in search for ANYTHING edible. She would wake up from a dead sleep and run into my bedroom with excitement and start yelling things like ''Happy Mother's day'' or ''Happy Birthday'' , it was neither of those days. Her sleep was inconsistent. Her entire personality changed , she lost memories , she became extremely selfish in a child like way.
She would experience these episodes which seemed to last all day , she described them as not being able to tell if the day was real or not. She had to stop going to therapy because she couldn't ever remember what was talked about last time which made her paranoid that people were lying to her or planting false memories in her head. This condition took away my mother. I came to terms with this about a year before she passed. She stared at me with a blank face , crying and said '' I don't even have a favorite color'' , she had just become a shell of someone I had loved.