Unusual Disorder Capgras Delusions- Believing your Spouse is An Imposter
Imagine for a moment, after a long day at work you come home and open the front door to your home. You call for your spouse the way you have everyday for more than twenty years.
On this day when you open the front door, the person who ends up standing before you is a person who appears identical to the person you’ve been married to for these twenty years.
However, you know it’s not the same person. Yes, they look the same but deep down you know they’re not. Someone has replaced your spouse with an imposter, a double, a clone or a look alike. You don’t know how, all you know is this person claiming to be your spouse is not them.
This is called Capgras Delusion Syndrome and it actually happens to people!
What is Capgras Delusion Syndrome?
Capgras delusion is a psychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusion that a friend, spouse, parent, or other close family member (or pet) has been replaced by an identical impostor.
The delusion most commonly occurs in individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia but has also been seen in brain injury, dementia with Lewy bodies, and other dementia.
Why does Capgras Delusion Syndrome Occur in Certain People?
In 2010, Dr. William Hirstein revised this theory to explain why a person with Capgras syndrome would have the particular reaction of not recognizing a familiar person
According to my current approach, we represent the people we know well with hybrid representations containing two parts.
One part represents them externally: how they look, sound, etc. The other part represents them internally: their personalities, beliefs, characteristic emotions, preferences, etc.
Capgras syndrome occurs when the internal portion of the representation is damaged or inaccessible. This produces the impression of someone who looks right on the outside, but seems different on the inside, i.e., an impostor.
So, according to Dr. Hirstein, the part of the brain that feels an emotional connection to someone stops functioning correctly and you lose the connection to them.
At the same time your brain’s memory of how the person looks is working properly so it leaves you feeling as if they’ve been replaced.
I’m sure this is a horrible thing to deal with for the person experiencing Capgras delusions and their spouse or loved one who has in their mind been replaced.
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