by Barbara Elsborg
One of the threads of my suspense story ‘Chosen’ is about Capgras Syndrome, where a sufferer believes a close family member, in this case my character’s husband and daughter have been replaced by imposters who look like them. The mother of my heroine, Kate, develops the syndrome after a car accident and refuses to acknowledge her husband or daughter. (Strikes me as a good way to dismiss family members you’re fed up of- as long as you can keep it up)
I have to admit, I’m completely fascinated by these quirky medical conditions.
Stendhal syndrome – causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness and confusion to an individual if they are confronted by something incredibly beautiful. (Not the reason my husband made my heart beat fast last night then)
Cotard Delusion – where a person believes they are dead or don’t actually exist or they’re putrefying. (wow- idea for a paranormal novel there, Cotard Delusion and the Zombies)
Diogenes Syndrome – common in the elderly – they don’t look after themselves and compulsively hoard, sometimes hoarding animals or body waste. (Oh yuk – but hoarding books doesn’t count, does it? And I did take my twice yearly bath a few days ago)
Paris Syndrome – one of my favorites – where every year a handful of Japanese tourists have to be repatriated from the French capital when they are shocked by the difference between reality and their expectations. (I was shocked at the cost of everything. I ought to write a blog about how to live on bread and water in Paris)
Reduplicative Paramnesia – bit of a mouthful. It’s a belief that a place has been duplicated so there are two of them. Two cities of Paris (sorry Japanese tourists). (Brilliant idea for movie coming to me now…)
Finally – Fregoli Delusion – opposite of the Capgras syndrome – where a person believes different people are in fact all the same in disguise. (There is only me in the world, everyone else is the same person – I’m worried now)
I know malfunctioning brains aren’t something to laugh about but the mind is a fabulous as well as a treacherous thing. Most of us are lucky enough to know the difference between appearance and reality. Those of us who are writers try to draw readers into the world of our imagination and hope they have fun there. I hope I cling to my imagination until I’m old and gray. (less of the - you already are - husband!)
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The brain is a delicate instrument, it doesn't take much to throw it out of whack. Love all the syndromes you've listed here, Barbara.
Leave it to you to be up on these strange and interesting things a mind can do to someone. I can't wait to see what label science gives for the brain of an author who writes one brillant story after the other. Hmm...The Elsborg Condition. Yep, good label. Great post!
Thanks, guys. The Elsborg condition - mmm - currently sniffing and sneezing in Texas flipping pollen. My head feels as though it's full of cotton and if I take allergy meds, I fall asleep. OH -that's a bonus - say family!
This is fascinating. They have labels for everything. The mind is wondrous and mystical
Too cool, Barbara. These types of conditions are intriguing, and make for fascinating character quirks. I wouldn't mind having multiple selves - then I could write, take care of domestic duties and read simultaneously.
Thanks for commenting Debbie and yep, Cate - that would be perfect. Just a few extra hours in the day would help too.
Very interesting post.
Thanks, bn! You know, I had another idea for a story from Capgras syndrome too. What is a woman or man were told they had it, and the family that came to see them, weren't really related at all? Although, I have a feeling I saw a film with that premise.
Great post, Barbara! The mind is an incredible thing, but it can be a horrible thing, too. Altered realities and perceptions make great material for fiction (i.e. Chosen, Total Recall, Shutter Island, etc. etc. etc.) but it takes a real master to pull it off with aplomb.
Take a bow, Barbara. Chosen is powerful and brilliant!
How interesting! Who knew some of these conditions existed? You can definitely see how researching things like this gives you great ideas for your stories. I can relate to the Paris syndrome too - it's not all starlit strolls along the Seine!
I love Chosen - a brilliant and exciting read!
Thanks so much for commenting, Natalie!
And the winner is - Natalie! I'll be in touch
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