Capgras syndrome: It’s like the movie, Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It seems that some people think their relatives or loved ones have been replaced by imposters!
A 21-year-old student in the U.S. had a wonderful relationship with her mother. She is the last of six children and perhaps the most beloved one. Suddenly she began to believe that her mother was no longer her true mother but an imposter. It turns out she was suffering from a condition called Capgras syndrome, and this was one of the symptoms.
This is delusional misidentification
Most patients find it intolerable and suffer horribly from the disorder, as it obviously causes anxious feelings. Their beloved ones suddenly become strangers for them, and when strangers enter the home randomly, you can imagine the disturbance caused in the mind.
The physical and mental causes
The disorder is a kind of “gap” or lesion between what the optic nerves perceive and emotional response. Suddenly the patient stops feeling like they should feel about their closest people, who suddenly become complete strangers.
It’s different from face blindness and the opposite of deja vu. With face blindness, the face will become unrecognizable but the emotions will still understand who the person is. With Capgras syndrome, even the recognizable face won’t be enough to convince the sick.
Scientists don’t exactly know what causes this condition. Sometimes it occurs in people who have suffered an accident and have experienced head trauma.
Another explanation may be schizophrenia and the various symptoms associated with this mental illness. Those who suffer from epilepsy can also have episodes of these strange symptoms.
Capgras syndrome has been closely associated with Alzheimer’s disease as well and displays 14% of the same indicators when pertaining to facial recognition and approval.
Moreover, there is no cure for this disorder. It is treated much easier in people who have suffered a head injury, while the rest are often required to take medication throughout life. It’s a truly unfortunate situation.
However, the evolution of technology is a helpful and supportive factor. In the future, the MRI scans will be even more detailed, so scientists estimate that in 30 or 40 years, it will be possible to relatively and accurately find the exact location of the lesion so that it will be treated more effectively.
Capgras syndrome was discovered by two French doctors, Joseph Capgras and Jean Reboul-Lachaux. It was considered an extremely rare disorder at the time. It has now become more common. Even if the cure is eventually found, the reality of this brain disorder surpasses the imagination.
What we can do
As far as affecting a positive influence on those who suffer from Capgras syndrome, the best thing to do is create a comfortable and safe environment for the patient.
Believe it or not, in some care facilities, the delusions are supported instead of rejected. This keeps the person affected by Capgras syndrome from also suffering from anxiety as well. Until there is a cure, we will continue to do what’s best for those who deal with this debilitating disorder.
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