Monday, January 10, 2011

Medical Mondays: Are You My Mother? Capgras Delusion


Today's Medical Mondays continues in the vein of the bizarre.

Capgras Delusion is a disorder where a person believes that their spouse, parent, child, or other close family member has been replaced by a look-alike and sound-alike imposter.

It's most commonly seen associated with schizophrenia, but can also be seen in cases of dementia or brain injury. Cases can last a short or very long time.

In literature, Capgras Delusion has been seen in:

Richard Power's The Echo Maker
Rivka Galchen's Atmospheric Disturbances

In movies, it was first seen in The Curse of the Cat People in 1944 and more contemporary TV shows like CSI, Law and Order, and Scrubs.

Capgras wouldn't be such a great disorder to have. It would brings a whole new meaning to the question, "Who's your Daddy?" Er, or Mommy?

And if you have a moment, check out Angela Felsted's blog where she's got one of my poems up for reading. Enjoy!

37 comments:

Matthew Rush said...

Wow. That sounds really freaking creepy.

Renae said...

I saw the episode of Law and Order where the mother had this disorder and it was very disturbing to say the least.

Great post!

Laura Pauling said...

I can see the potential for the creepy factor though. But really thinking about it is kinda scary!

Sarah said...

This would be so terrifying. And you wouldn't even be able to turn to the people you find most comforting--that makes it worse. And ... I'll never again read my children that "Are you my mother?" book without thinking of this ...

Carol Kilgore said...

I didn't know this was a real thing, but I've thought about it before as a plot device for a thriller/suspense. The parent or spouse would be switched out by law enforcement or the bad guys and no one would believe the child or spouse when they claimed it wasn't the right person.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Are you really Lydia? I mean, how do I know for sure? You write like her, and all. But ....

How utterly alone and fearful a person suffering from that must feel. Nothing and no one would trustsworthy. Gee, you'd feel like you were in Congress.

Have a great Monday, Roland

Munk Davis said...

What makes this so hard to diagnose is the increasing number of people who are now actually being replaced.

Angela Felsted said...

That would be creepy. It might be interesting to write about, though.

ciaraknight said...

That's some scary stuff, Lydia.

LTM said...

isn't that like your doppleganger? And further what about the whole "you're not paranoid if they're really after you???"

No, I saw that drawing and knew immediately. It was my mother.

(*snort*) ;p

Faith said...

Oooh!!! This is happening in the 'Fate of the Jedi' Star Wars book series I'm reading right now (LOL)... they call it something else (because it's sci-fi), but that's exactly what's happening. I had no idea it was a real disorder. Fascinating! Thanks for sharing!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Oh my gosh, that sounds scary. I know some people make up stories that their parent is someone else because they are unhappy, but to really believe it would be terrifying. Thanks again for one of the most edifying Mondays in the blogosphere!

Heather said...

What a fascinating disorder! The mind is such an intriguing thing, especially when it doesn't fire quite right.

Holly Ruggiero said...

That’s plan creepy.

Olga said...

I thought it is just the imagination of the kid when they say it. Fortunately I only watched it in movies.

lbdiamond said...

When in doubt, choose C. ;)

I've always been fascinated with this one...encountered it a few times too.

Taryn Tyler said...

I choose C. Most definately C.

Carolyn Abiad said...

I actually knew someone who had this problem. Very sad story, but she thought the housemaid was actually a demon and went after her with a knife. The housemaid avoided it, left immediately and never went back. I don't know what happened to the girl after all these years. The whole problem was so hard on the family though. I wonder why she fixated on the maid instead of her parents?

Truth is stranger than fiction!

Krispy said...

Super creepy, but great fodder for a story or show.

Yay poetry! One of my neglected loves. Will definitely be over to check it out.

Meredith said...

That would be such an awful delusion! I remember reading The Echo Maker and freaking out that it would happen to me. SO scary!

M Pax said...

Wow, so they believe someone they're close to was replaced by a doppleganger or changeling? Interesting. What a fascinating story that could make. Thanks for the stick of inspiration, Lydia. :D

Cold As Heaven said...

That's bizarre disorder, and interesting appealing for fiction writers and movie makers

Cold As Heaven

The Words Crafter said...

I loved the poem! Beautiful :P

I read something about this disorder today and a case was presented where a man had a tumor removed. As a result, he no longer was capable of feeling...anything. He and his wife divorced, but it said she was still devoted to him.

This would be a lot like Alzheimer's I would think, and just as devastating.

Phoenix said...

GAH, I don't think I could handle that level of paranoia if I had that disease. Mental diseases are almost more tragic than physical ones if you ask me. So sad.

Connie Arnold said...

That is so weird and would certainly be scary to have that happen!

Naomi Ruth said...

Huh. I'd never heard of this before. How very interesting.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Sounds scary! Had never heard of this disorder before.

KatieO said...

Creepy, but edifying, as usual!

Jane Charles said...

That sounds like one of the scariest disorders to have. How can you not question everything? Wow.

Samantha VĂ©rant said...

I really think somebody else has replaced my mother. Somebody who acts 16. Seriously, my mom is like a party animal now. Where did my mom real go?

Jonene Ficklin said...

Boy, you're right. That's one malady I'll pass on. Thanks for the great post!

Jodi Henry said...

Sounds like something I don't ever want. Thanks for the heads up in case my husband suddenly forgets who I am. Lol.

There is a lonely blog award waiting for a home over here for you at my blog. Please pick it up.

J

http://jodilhenry.blogspot.com/2011/01/handful-of-awards.html

Krista said...

Good heavens. That sounds absolutely too sad.

Jai Joshi said...

That would be a horrible disorder to have. Imagine the paranoia and distrust that would come from thinking that your relative isn't really your relative. *shudder*

I'm paranoid enough as it is about my REAL relatives.

Jai

Theresa Milstein said...

Love how you brought a medical condition and literature together.

I'm heading to Angela's blog now.

WritingNut said...

Ooh... fascinating and freaky, but definitely not something you'd ever want to have.

notesfromnadir said...

Why has it not been on House yet? Oh wait, they gotta come up w/ a twist to make it even more unusual!

 
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