Bizzare Brains: The Weird Disorders- Part 1.

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While watching ‘Criminal Minds’, I’ve often wondered how twisted our brains are. Anyone remotely interested in the dark corners of our minds will know all about what I’m going to write today. Some psychological disorders are so rare and so utterly weird that the students of psychology have to study it only for their tests, they hardly ever encounter any of these syndromes while practising. It’s very probable that you’ll never meet anyone who has any of these syndromes but then, but you should go through this if you think the disorders shown in Grey’s Anatomy, Scrubs and CSI are bizarre.

1. Stockholm Syndrome

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Let’s start with a commonly known disorder. Here, the captive starts sympathizing with his/her captor, often showing loyalty or voluntary compliance even in a situation of extreme danger. Belle, from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ shows classic symptoms of Stockholm Syndrome. She goes through the same phases-

First, she knows that the only way of survival is compliance, so she goes into her room without a fight.

Second, she starts understanding what makes her captor unhappy and manages to avoid Beast’s fits of rage successfully.

Third, she starts thinking that that every small act of kindness from her captor, makes him a good person. (Even though the only act of kindness that he performs is refraining himself from killing her).

The fourth and the final stage is when the captor seems like a friend and anyone who comes to rescue her from his clutches becomes the enemy.

This syndrome is seen very often in victims of child abuse and domestic rape.

2. Lima Syndrome.

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This is basically the exact opposite of Stockholm Syndrome. The captor or the kidnapper becomes more sensitive to the plights and needs of his/her hostage. There are numerous examples of this in popular fiction. For example, In Panic Room, a pair of housebreakers accidentally end up taking hostages when the supposedly empty house was occupied earlier than expected, and then find themselves locked in the panic room with a girl about to slip into a diabetic coma. One of them is an ax-crazy murderer who talks about needing to kill her since she’s seen his face, but the other one does everything he can to prevent her getting hurt.

In books and movies where the captor and the captive fall in love or start co-operating with each other under strange circumstances- for example, Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth from Game of Thrones, one of them usually starts suffering from either of these two syndromes. Both of these symptoms have been named after the places where it had first been observed- Stockholm, Sweden and Lima, Peru.

3. Paris Syndrome.

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This one may sound extremely unrealistic, but it’s true. This syndrome is exclusive to the Japanese tourists who come to visit Paris and suffer a ‘culture shock.’ The are unable to connect the idyllic view of Paris that they have seen in movies like Amélie to the real bustling metropolis. Millions of Japanese tourists who visit Paris suffer from this disorder and have to be returned to their homeland.
The Japanese embassy has a 24 hour hotline for tourists suffering for severe culture shock, and can provide emergency hospital treatment if necessary.

4.  Jerusalem Syndrome

This syndrome involves the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by, or lead to, a visit to the city of Jerusalem. But this has not been taken too seriously by the psychologists because all the people who have experienced these symptoms had a history of mental illnesses or were not exactly deemed ‘well’ even before this Jerusalem Syndrome had affected them.

5. Alien Hand Syndrome

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Do you remember the episode ‘Rose’ of Doctor Who where a plastic hand tried to kill the Doctor? That’s what you get when you try to find out the literal translation of Alien Hand Syndrome. But it is sort of scary in real life. The person starts believing that one of his hands is possessed. He still retains the normal sensations of touch and pain in that hand but it does not follow his orders, according to him. The ‘wayward’ hand seems to have a will of its own.

“At times, particularly in patients who have sustained damage to the corpus callosum that connects the 2 cerebral hemispheres, the hands appear to be acting in opposition to each other, which has been termed “intermanual conflict” or “ideomotor apraxia.”
Alien hand syndrome is usually caused by stroke or other brain damage, particularly in the areas of the corpus callosum, or frontal or parietal lobes.”

6. Taijin Kyofusho.

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If you think you’re socially awkward, you should really feel lucky you don’t have this. This is also exclusive to the Japanese population. This syndrome involves the crippling fear of social interactions and the awareness of all things that could possibly go wrong. The people who suffer from this constantly and obsessively worry about things such as body odour that can offend the people they’re talking to. It’s not surprising in a country like Japan because a great deal of stress lies on keeping up appearances and etiquettes in the Japanese culture.

7. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome or Todd Syndrome.

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We all remember Alice’s never-ending discomfort of trying to return to her original body size. But throughout the entire story, she was either too small or too big for her own good. People with this syndrome experience a disturbing feeling of altered body image, he will find that he is confused as to the size and shape of parts of (or all of) his body.

“Alice in Wonderland syndrome (AIW) or Todd syndrome is a neurologic condition in which a patient’s sense of body image, space, and/or time are distorted. Sufferers may experience micropsia or Lilliputian hallucinations, macropsia, or size distortion of other sensory modalities, which includes also an altered sense of velocity, produced by the distorted sense of size, perspective, and time. AIWS is a result of change in perception as opposed to the eyes themselves malfunctioning. AIWS affects the sufferer’s sense of vision, sensation, touch, and hearing, as well as one’s own body image and sense of time. ”

This nightmarish experience can occur several times a day. This disorder is mainly caused due to brain tumours, migraines, use of psychoactive drugs and can also present as the initial sign of the Epstein-Barr virus or during high fever.

The next instalment will contain the slightly more gory and morbid disorders.