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These 8 Strange Mental Illnesses Can Happen to Anyone

Have you ever heard about these strange mental illnesses that can affect anyone of us?

Mental health and our understanding of it have evolved over the years. However, the world is still full of strange mental illnesses that we may have never even heard of. This does not mean that someone is crazy, but rather that these strange mental illnesses are something that does not appear that often, and their appearance may seem peculiar. Since they are rare, there is not much research able to be done on them to the extent that we have researched depression, anxiety, and stress, for example.

When you think about it, these strange mental illnesses are very under-researched when compared to a more common mental health issue such as depression, and most scientists are still looking into them despite the years of advancements we have made in understanding this disease. While the more commonly encountered mental health issues are somewhat well understood to a certain extent, these strange mental illnesses are not only extremely rare, but most people may not even realize they have them.

Diagnosis and treatment are also harder to administer and pinpoint due to their rarity. And when you take into consideration that about 50% of the entire American population suffers from a mental disorder or illness during the course of their lives, these disorders are even more fascinating!

Since here at Mind Bending Facts we strive to both provide you with some of the most interesting facts about our world and also help you understand the world around us better, we have found some of the rarest mental health conditions that some professionals never even encounter during their activities and that you have probably never heard of before! Keep reading to discover these rare and strange mental illnesses!

Have you ever heard of these before? Let us know your personal experience with mental health in the comments!

strange mental illnesses
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Diogenes Syndrome

This strange mental illness may resemble the extreme hoarding issues we have gotten used to seeing over the years presented in the media and which have also been studied over the years. However, Diogenes syndrome is associated with dementia, and it somehow resembles extreme hoarding since it is more bizarre and dark than even hoarding. Diogenes syndrome is characterized by the compulsion to hoard trash and some other random items, which leads to people living in horrible living conditions.

It is mainly encountered in the elderly, and it can be a sign that dementia has progressed to a high level. People cannot stop themselves from collecting garbage, and you can imagine just how bad this strange mental illness can get over time if it is not treated. Other aspects that can indicate someone has this disorder include apathy, social withdrawal, self-neglect, and a complete lack of shame.

People who suffer from this syndrome live solitary lives surrounded by piles and piles of trash, and it is a severe sign that someone’s dementia has accentuated so much that they may need to be institutionalized. The sad truth is that some people do not get diagnosed until it is too late, despite the sometimes clear signs that something is definitely not right!

Another weird fact about this syndrome is that it bears the name of Diogenes of Sinope, a famous Greek philosopher. The name is actually a misnomer, as the philosopher was the complete opposite of how this syndrome manifests. Diogenes was the inventor of cynicism, found poverty virtuous, and was a social butterfly. He rejected anything that had to do with power, fame, and wealth and chose to live free of any sort of physical possessions, which is ironic when you think about the syndrome that holds his name!

Clinical Lycanthropy

You have heard about werewolves and the supposed reason that causes such a reaction in fantasy and fairytale books: lycanthropy. The name for this strange mental illness uses the same word because this condition is characterized by the fact that a person believes they can transfer into an animal. The most common manifestation is that people who suffer from this delusion believe that they can turn into an actual wolf or a werewolf, hence the name: Clinical Lycanthropy!

While this one is more widespread, most people who suffer from Clinical Lycanthropy truly believe that they can turn into animals, and it manifests in a sad way. While the patient is in a delusion episode or when they are hallucinating, they act like the animal they believe they can shapeshift into. Individuals who suffer from this strange mental illness and believe they can turn into forest animals have been found in woods or in nearby wooded areas, acting as if they were animals.

Clinical Lycanthropy is not widely spread, and since it is so rare, it has been labeled by the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience as a subtype of Delusional Misidentification Syndrome.

Stendhal Syndrome

Also known under the names of Florence syndrome and hyperculturemia, this strange mental illness can be debilitating, and people who suffer from it experience intense emotional and physical anxiety. Other symptoms associated with Stendhal Syndrome include hallucinations, dissociative experiences, panic attacks, and confusion when exposed to the trigger of this mental disorder. What can cause a person so much anguish, you may be wondering? The answer is simple: art.

Stendhal Syndrome is triggered by art pieces that the person believes to be extremely beautiful or by being surrounded by art pieces in one place, such as galleries, museums, or art exhibits. Unfortunately, this strange mental illness can also be triggered by natural beauty, such as being outside in nature and seeing a really impressive landscape.

Two of the names of this particular syndrome have been given after a French author experienced it back in 1817 when he was visiting Florence. It can be pretty funny to imagine this involuntary reaction to something we consider so basic, such as seeing a landscape or an art piece that we like, but we imagine that not being able to control yourself and feeling such a strong panic out of the blue must be absolutely terrifying!

strange mental illnesses
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Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Yes, you read that right. This strange mental illness is actually named after the classic children’s story Alice in Wonderland, and it is similar to a very significant part of the story, hence why this syndrome is known by this name. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS), which may also be known as Todd Syndrome, is a neurological condition that manifests as the individual not being able to perceive time, space, or their own bodies in a normal way. Their whole view of all of these topics is distorted, and they are confused about them.

Other symptoms of this syndrome include sensory distortion, hallucinations, and not being able to perceive velocity (the direction and speed at which something is moving). While all of these symptoms that are characteristic of this syndrome are debilitating, the one that manifests more often than not is the alteration of their view of their bodies.

Patients who suffer from Alice in Wonderland Syndrome are confused about the shape and size of different parts of their bodies. This confusion can then create fear responses and even panic attacks. The somewhat good news about this syndrome is that it is more prevalent and observed in children between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. However, it can also manifest alongside brain tumors, frequent migraines, and even drug use.

Khyâl Cap

No one said that strange mental illnesses needed a strange name as well, but this one is just strange for the people who do not speak the language. Khyâl Cap, which means “wind attacks”, is a medical condition that only affects Cambodians and Cambodian nationals that now live in the United States. And before you think that it could be something that is being made up, this is a real medical condition that has been recognized and included in the DSM-V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition).

The symptoms associated with Khyâl Cap include some that are very similar to panic attacks, autonomic arousal, and anxiety. Thus, the individual that suffers from this strange mental illness suffers from a number of different symptoms that can be confused with other conditions, and they have to manage things like shortness of breath, dizziness, palpitations, and cold extremities with the likes of even tinnitus and neck soreness that are seemingly inexplicable!

This mental health condition has at its center the Khyâl, which in Cambodian tradition is a wind-resembling substance that is rising through the body and blood, giving you serious health issues. These instances can happen at any moment, and they resemble panic attacks in how they are experienced by people. Generally, Khyâl Cap is often seen in refugees that escaped from Cambodia and have PTSD, as they share a common worry that they may end up dying from a body dysfunction caused by the illness.

Khyâl Cap is one of the strange mental illnesses that are a key example of a cultural syndrome, or in this case, a mental health syndrome, that can be associated with a specific group of people or with individuals that share the same community, cultural group, or have been through the same context.


While some of the strange mental illnesses we have seen so far are either strange due to the way they manifest or they are very specific to a certain group of people, there are a number of conditions that are downright scary, especially when we take a look at the level of compulsion they hold over the individuals and what they feel forced to do. Apotemnophilia is such an unknown condition that many do not hear of it, and it is scary as the main characteristic of it is that people are compelled to amputate parts of their bodies that are healthy!

Believed to be a neurological condition, people who suffer from Apotemnophilia only manage to get help after they have given into their compulsion; most of the time, they will require surgery in order to surgically remove the limb that they have tried to remove themselves. Managing to amputate a limb yourself is not easy, and most of them end up damaging their limb so badly in their attempt that there is nothing that can be done to save it.

What’s more, what makes this strange mental illness something that scares some is the fact that people do not seek help for such a condition, since they may also not be aware that it is something known that can get help. People suffer in silence, probably thinking they are weird for having such a compulsion until they cannot resist and give in to it. The good news is that despite the little that is known about this if individuals do seek out medical help, it is believed that aversion therapies together with cognitive behavioral therapy can be used to treat this mental health condition.

If you want to be able to understand these strange illnesses better, it would be good to know and understand psychological concepts. If you are new to this world we recommend you this book so that you can start your journey into understanding the human mind and nature better!

strange mental illnesses
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Depersonalization/Derealization Disorder

While most of these strange mental illnesses we have discussed today are ones that most of us have not heard of before, when it comes to Depersonalization or Derealization Disorder, we have seen it pop up more often. It is more commonly talked about and even portrayed in the media as a possible mental health issue that people deal with.

Despite this, people are not often suffering from this to the degree that it is debilitating, and it is easier for people who do not suffer from this stage of mental illness to empathize since it can happen to anyone to have such an episode without suffering from the mental condition.

Derealization Disorder is characterized by people feeling like they are separated from their body and their immediate surroundings; some people describe it as if they feel like they are looking at themselves from the outside and not actually participating in their reality. This separation is the focal point of this disorder, and most patients who live with it can feel and believe that their lives are not real, sometimes even experiencing them sped up or even slowed down, despite the fact that nothing of the sort is happening.

These tendencies, if you see them happening more often than not, may actually point to you having Derealization Disorder or depersonalization, and you can get a diagnosis. Just keep in mind that such states can happen as side effects of some medications, in cases of poor physical or mental health conditions, or as a side effect of recreational drugs.

Alien Hand Syndrome

We shall end our list of strange mental health illnesses with one of them that may seem comical despite the fact that it is a serious mental health condition that affects people and their daily lives. Alien Hand Syndrome is a mental health condition in which people believe that their hand is a sentient being, as in they truly think that their hand has its own life and should not be part of them. This syndrome makes individuals believe that their hand does not belong to them and that their limb is actually autonomous.

These individuals’ hands are actually normally functioning, and there is nothing wrong with them, but the person affected by Alien Hand Syndrome will not see it as such. There have also been times when individuals believed that only one of their hands is autonomous, while the other is not a separate entity from them, with the separate hand having an agenda of its own.

While it sounds like something straight out of a Sci-Fi movie, it is a real condition that can affect people who have damage to the corpus callosum, the part of the brain that connects the two hemispheres, or those who had their parietal love or have suffered from a stroke!

These strange mental illnesses are not the only odd phenomena that not many of us have heard about. If you are interested in weird medical genetic diseases, read more about the ones that affect royal families around the world and why they happen here!

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