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medically speaking

I Won’t Say You’re Crazy, I’ll Just Say I’m Surprised

I’m surprised that these are real disorders

Even though I’d like to be able to say Paris Syndrome is an illness my friend Michelle has with this French city, alas it is not. The serious preoccupation with this city that has dictated the decor of her bedroom is actually not a heightened case of love illness. It’s actually a description of an overwhelming depressive state that causes many Japanese tourists yearly to seek psychological treatment following vacations to the Eiffel Tower hometown. When the idea they have of the country is met with the reality of it being opposite to their dreams, it can provoke a mental crisis. (Their high expectations for Paris get let down drastically; they imagine romance, beautiful flowers and people, welcoming Parisians, ect… and recieve cigarettes in the gutter, rats, poor service, ect. ) An occurrence that was first detailed in the psychiatric journal Nervure in 2004.

(When the French hurt their feelings they take it waaaaay to hard. They’re not perfect, calm down—no body forced you to idealize them. I mean geez.)

On a recent episode of USA Network’s original series Royal Pains, character Eric Kassabian, a series art collector has ridiculous fainting spells every time he gazed at his latest artistic purchase. While I certainly can agree with the notion and some quote unquote great art, can bring great confusion, it’s nothing to faint about. Well those with Stendhal Syndrome, unfortunately react otherwise. Hank Med didn’t really clarify the particulars of this disorder on the show–but hey they left it in to be continued mode, so you never know! But details of this psychosomatic illness (also called Hyperkulturemia, or Florence syndrome) include rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly ‘beautiful’ or a large amount of art is in a single place. (If art is subjective in it’s attractiveness to individuals, I wonder which art cases these appreciators fall down?)

If you were to walk up to your mom and notify her of your awareness that she’s actually an imposter, and you’d like to inquire the whereabouts of your identical in appearance parental figure; you’re probably going to get a reaction suggesting that you “get your head checked”. That actually wouldn’t be a bad idea considering Capgras Delusion is a medically documented illness. The delusion most common amongst those with schizophrenia (but not always!), and that occurs more frequently in females than to men, is a disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse, parent, or other close family member has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor.

Go fig. I’d have thought you were simply being ornery…

Please introduce me to a single fella that has the Jumping Frenchmen of Maine illness–hahaha. I would certainly put to good use someone with this condition (first discovered in 1878) that upon being startled causes those to essentially become hypnotized to all behavior commands. I’d be jumping out of corners all the live long day and getting lots of chores around the house done, just…like…that…

(to read more on cases of those who’ve reacted to this startle reflex, click one of the previous underlined links)

I’ve met plenty of people in my life who’ve acted and pretty much lived life as if they were missing vital bodily organs–like a heart–and behaved as though they were the walking dead. But to find out there is actually an illness entitled Cotard’s Syndrome, which describes suffers as believing they are shy certain vital organs, and are actually dead folks walking, well I’m liable to question the fact or fiction specifics of this. Somehow I’m not surprised that this psychological illness discovered in the 1800’s, was noted by a Frenchmen. I mean France has long been the base capital of mimes….I mean really…

Cotard Syndrome is thought to be related to facial blindness; another rare, but possibly better documented neurological disorder that involves another type of body to brain realization disconnect. Those with facial blindness can practically be described as those who see seas of heads with pixilated faces. Their ability to ever recognize a face is simply non-existent. Heather Sellers shares in her memoir, You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know, her own personal struggle to navigate a confusing life with a cross dressing daddy, a paranoid schizophrenic mama, and her disability to tell who people are by their faces. (this book is actually on my bookshelf right now. honest to goodness.)

Click on over to ABC NEWS for a great feature they did on Sellers last year.

(image credit: http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-man-showing-sign-surprised-image18441584)


About maggie.

Maggie Barnes is a nonprofit and for profit business content specialist / social media consultant; and social sciences web writer interested in everything from psychology and sexuality, to technology, race, and economics. She is passionate about good communication and information accessibility.



  1. Pingback: I Won’t Say You’re Crazy, I’ll Just Say I’m Surprised « MAGGIE BARNES - January 24, 2012

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