Mental Phenomenons


(Image via Healthy Place)

Jess Winkler, Writer

The mind is a crazy place, and I bet most of you would agree with me. Our minds can make things up and can even lie to us, but I’ll be focusing more on fascinating mental phenomenons and let me tell you, there are a lot of them. With all that your brain does, it’s not that surprising that the brain would develop odd mutations or have malfunctions every now and then. 

One particular phenomenon is the Walking Corpse syndrome, or Cotard’s syndrome,  which basically means you think you’re dead. Imagine waking up one day and thinking you don’t exist, or you lost organs! The person affected believes they are already dead, do not exist, and/or have lost their blood or organs. This syndrome is usually accompanying severe cases of depression or other psychotic disorders. While it is a very rare illness, it is still scary. There are a lot of different treatments that may or may not work, but the most common is electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). ECT involves sending small pulses of electricity into your head to cause small seizures while you are under anesthesia. While being a zombie might be cool, I would not describe Cotard’s syndrome the same way. 

To add to the list of unusual disabilities, Hemineglect is definitely towards the top. Hemineglect, or unilateral inattention, is when a person ignores or doesn’t acknowledge one half of their body and the world. People with minor cases would be asked to draw a picture or copy a picture given to them and half of the drawing would be scribbled or nonexistent. The worst cases include the patient not talking to the person on the ignored side of them or not eating food on the ignored side of their plate. Some patients also don’t recognize their own limbs on the ignored side of their body as theirs. While sometimes we get the sensation of your limbs going numb, this is taking it a bunch of steps too far. We don’t even know for certain why the brain does this, but it does. 

Speaking of weird things the brain does, there is another syndrome called Capgras syndrome. People with this phenomenon think their loved ones are replaced by imposters. Some describe the ‘imposters’ as aliens or robots that have taken over their loved ones’ places. It is commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, but it can also be caused by schizophrenia or damages to the brain. As of now, there is no clear treatment for Capgras syndrome, in some cases that it is caused by another disease, the best case would be to treat the other disease and hope the Capgras syndrome goes away too. While some people might describe Capgras patients as paranoid, the patients might have just opened their 3rd eye and can now see the alien imposters of the world and are trying to warn us. Believe what you will, but in all Capgras syndrome is still a scary and confusing disease. 

This next one is a little disturbing, just as a warning. There is a syndrome called Ekbom syndrome in which the person feels bugs crawling under their skin. This highly disturbing disease is described in the movie Bug where a man feels creatures under his skin. The saying “Makes my skin crawl” gains a whole new meaning when associated with Ekbom syndrome. Patients describe this syndrome as being infested with bugs, worms, or other parasites. The most common treatment for Ekbom syndrome is prescribing the patient with different drugs like Olanzapine, but there is still not a clear treatment. 

I would like to remind everyone that these diseases are very rare, despite how disturbing they are. The mind is a confusing and intricate place, and that leaves a lot of room for mistakes. Our minds work really hard to eliminate all problems or malfunctions, but sometimes these syndromes still get through. Luckily, we are accelerating in our medical and scientific fields to the point where we are starting to learn a lot more about the brain and how to treat syndromes like this. In the next decade, we will have improved our look on the functions of the brain and will have learned a lot that will help us, but as of now, there is still a lot to discover.