6 Rare Mental Illnesses You Probably Haven’t Heard Of

From clinical werewolf delusions to the belief that you are literally dead, these rare mental disorders are as uncommon as they are tragic.

Imagine looking down at your own legs and thinking that they simply shouldn’t be there. Imagine believing that so strongly that you’d actually amputate your own legs in order to set things “right.”

Sufferers of Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) experience that very feeling — and some of them even go through with the amputation.

Thankfully, BIID and the rest of humanity’s most rare mental disorders only affect very, very few people. Although that hardly makes reading about these disorders any less chilling…

Rare Mental Disorders: Cotard’s Syndrome


Nikolay Doychinov/AFP/Getty Images

Most people go to the doctor to keep themselves from dying. These people go because they’re under the impression that they’re already dead.

Victims of the extremely rare and mysterious Cotard’s Syndrome — also known as “walking corpse syndrome” — experience delusions that they are either dead or no longer exist.

The first known case was reported by Charles Bonnet in 1788. The Swiss researcher wrote of an old woman who was cooking, felt a draft, then became briefly paralyzed.

When her ability to move came back, she insisted that she was dead and told her daughters that they needed to dress her in her funeral clothes, put her in a coffin and have a wake. After a lot of arguing, they gave in.

The woman fell asleep in her coffin, the daughters put her to bed, and then later treated her with some sort of concoction. Nevertheless, the woman continued to become convinced she had died every few months.

Annie Garau
Annie is a NYC-based writer. For tips, write to [email protected]
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