5 Rare Mental Disorders You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Mental health illnesses are common and affect lots of people in the world. Disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder are common, but some mental disorders are so rare that mental professionals may never come across them. Here are 5 rare mental disorders you probably never knew existed.

Apotemnophilia

Also known as Body Identity Integrity Disorder or Amputee Identity Disorder, Apotemnophilia is a disorder in which a person has a strong desire to cut off one or more healthy limbs. Many people fear losing a limb, but these patients enjoy the thought of losing one!

People suffering from Apotemnophilia could prefer a stump to a limb, believing their body is not whole without that stump. Symptoms of this disorder include: 

  • sexual attraction to amputees
  • a persistent desire for amputation
  • disturbance in social and occupational functioning
  • Pretentious acts of being disabled
  • Attempts to amputate a limb

This disorder shares similarities with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). There’s no proven effective treatment for people with Apotemnophilia, but psychotherapy helps. 

Erotomania

Erotomania is when you think someone is in love with you, even if you don’t know them or you’ve never met them. The person could be a celebrity or someone of high social standing whom you’ve never met, but you just believe they’re in love with you.

A person with this illness may also believe their “lover” is trying to pass secret messages or codes. They misinterpret their actions and are fixated on the idea that the person is in love with them, although there’s no evidence proving that. Erotomania is common in women, but men also experience it. Also, people who have this mental disorder tend to:

  • feel lonely or unwanted
  • Indulge in social isolation
  • have low self-esteem
  • Be stubborn and fixated on their point of view

A person suffering from Erotomania can become aggressive and show risky behaviours like stalking or harassment. It is one of the most rare mental disorders in the world, and it’s sometimes linked to disorders such as Schizophrenia, Dementia, and Bipolar disorder. There’s no definite diagnosis for this disorder, but the doctor would ask about your past physical and mental history. They can also suggest therapy or medication for treatment. 

Stendhal Syndrome

Imagine being so captivated by a beautiful piece of art that you become physically and mentally unwell. This illness is referred to as the Stendhal Syndrome or Florence syndrome. A person suffering from this disorder experiences symptoms of acute illness like panic attacks, dizziness, hallucinations, and fainting when exposed to beautiful works of art. 

This rare mental illness was named after a French writer, Marie Henri Beyle, whose pen name was Stendhal. In his travel memoir, he wrote of his first experience, where he experienced feelings of dizziness and intense palpitations after encountering a beautiful piece of art in Italy. Although mental health practitioners haven’t confirmed the nature of this disorder, there have been reports of people experiencing it for centuries. 

Rare mental health disorders: Capgras Syndrome.

Capgras Syndrome

Capgras Syndrome is a mental disorder that makes people believe that reality has been altered and a family member, friend, or spouse has been replaced by an impostor. Their belief is so strong that no amount of reasoning can change it. 

The patient might recognize someone and feel something wrong about them, even if nothing is. Researchers frequently associate this rare mental health disorder with Alzheimer’s and dementia; they also believe it’s caused by a problem with the brain.

Koro Syndrome

This is a mental disorder in which people think their genitals are shrinking and will disappear. In females, the most significant symptom of this illness is the fear of retracting the nipples, breasts and vulva. In males, the biggest sign is fear of their penis shrinking.

Cases of this Koro Syndrome have been seen worldwide in Asia, Europe, Africa and America. It was first discovered in China when men complained of their penises shrinking and experienced panic attacks and an imminent fear of death. 

Victims of this illness typically ask their friends or family members to help manipulate their genitals to stop them from shrinking, sometimes leading to injury. Antidepressants and antipsychotics are often prescribed to reduce the symptoms of this ailment.

Close up shot of shocked black man covers face with spiral notepad, feels astonished, models over white studio background, reads notes written in notebook, wears round glasses, has scared look

Takeaway

Never neglect your mental health; check yourself and your loved ones regularly. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist if you experience symptoms of any of these rare mental health disorders or know anyone who does. 

About the Author(s)

Oluwafikunayomi is a content writer and proofreader who (loves and) reads French Language at the University of Lagos. When she is not writing or reading, she drags John Grisham and Stephen King in her book club, Elysium.

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