Rare Mental Disorders You've Never Heard Of

When we talk about mental health and mental disorders most people are able to identify the big ones. They know schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, bipolar, eating disorders etc. However, there are some conditions that are so rare even mental health professionals may not know about them or ever encounter them in their careers. Here are examples of some rare mental health disorders only seldom seen by psychiatrists and mental health professionals.


Stendhal Syndrome

Individuals with Stendhal Syndrome experience emotional and physical anxiety, as well as panic attacks, confusion, hallucinations, and dissociative episodes. The unique feature of this condition is that the symptoms only happens when they’re exposed to art. They can also experience these symptoms when they encounter beauty in nature. These symptoms are triggered by art that is perceived as particularly beautiful or when they’re exposed to a large quantity of art in one location such as a museum or art gallery. To put it simply, people with Stendhal syndrome are extremely moved by beautiful art and nature, to an unhealthy degree.



This condition is also known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder, and is characterized by the desire to amputate healthy parts of the body. It’s believed to be a neurological disorder, but not much is known about it. Those affected by it may attempt to amputate their own limbs or damage them so that surgical amputation is necessary.


Alien Hand Syndrome

Yes, this is a real condition in which individuals believe their own hand does not belong to them but has a life of their own. People experience normal sensations in their hand, but feel that it is autonomous, and has a will of its own. The condition may develop if a person has suffered certain form of brain damage, such as damaging their corpus callosum, damaging their parietal lobe, or have suffered from a stroke.


Capgras Syndrome

This very rare mental disorders is particularly strange, as people with this condition hold the delusion that someone in their life, usually someone close to them like a family member or spouse, has been replaced by an imposter. It can occur in people with schizophrenia, dementia, epilepsy, or after a TBI. Capgras Syndrome received media attention a few years back due to a high-profile murder investigation. In this case, an otherwise normal ivy-league student was convicted of murdering his wife after suddenly becoming convinced that she was an imposter. Some historians also believe that this rare mental disorder explains past societal behaviors, such as fairy kidnappings and the belief in changelings in Ireland.


Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome (AIWS), also known as Todd syndrome, is a neurological condition where a person’s sense of body image, space, and time is disoriented. Individuals may have hallucinations, altered sense of velocity, or sensory distortion. People often are confused about the shape and size of their bodies, which can trigger panic or fear responses.


These are examples of some of the most extreme and rare mental disorders. However, many of the symptoms mentioned here, paranoia, hallucinations, dissociation, etc. appear in more common but still severe mental health conditions. These include different types of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder with psychotic features, and body dysmorphic disorder. It is important with any symptoms like these to get properly evaluated and diagnosed by a psychiatrist experienced in treating complex mental health conditions. Contact us today for more questions.

Dr. Raul J. Rodriguez

Dr. Raul Rodriguez


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