Folie a Plusieurs

One benefit of working as a mental health professional  in the middle of nowhere is the opportunity to see people with all sorts  of different diagnoses that one wouldn’t necessarily see in urban areas due to the increased specialization there. When you are the only game in town (or a 100 mile radius) you get to see it all.  Very few of my urban colleagues have seen Huntington’s Chorea first hand, tested people with Lewy Body Dementia  or Korsakoff’s psychosis, and also treated  children with PANDAS (Look it up. It isn’t as nice as it sounds).

The recent uptick in conspiracy theories and QAnon reminded me of a case I was privy to decades ago involving a shared delusion.  Folie a Deux is a condition in which one person with a Delusional Disorder convinces someone else without a Delusional Disorder that their delusions are real. It usually occurs in couples or close relatives.   It is rare.  It barely made the last edition of the American Psychiatric Association  Diagnostic and Statistical  Manual.  The case I remember is that of  one person in a couple having  the delusion that a member of a famous  Country Western singing group loved them,  and transmitted secret messages to them over the television.  The delusional person convinced their partner this was true, and both had to be hospitalized.

I wonder if APA is reevaluating the rarity of shared delusions in our current political climate.  It may be more prevalent than we previously thought.  I love the French terms for these conditions.  Folie a Plusieurs is the term for “madness of several”,  which we certainly have observed recently.  The treatment usually involves separating the truly delusional from the ones they have convinced about their delusions.  Then they can see what is really happening.

What are your favorite non-English terms?  Make up some fun and helpful  conspiracy theories.  

43 thoughts on “Folie a Plusieurs”

  1. Mass psychosis isn’t as rare as we might think.
    January 30, 1962, Tanganyika experienced a laughing epidemic that eventually affect a thousand people.
    January 30, 1933, Hitler was given the Chancellorship of Germany that eventually affected millions of people. No laughing matter.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Fascinating about the Folie a Deux, Renee. Now how do we get everyone afflicted separated for an appropriate length of time?

    One term I use a lot is “tête-à-tête”, a private conversation between two people…. literally “head to head”. I would just LOVE to have a tête-à-tête in person with almost anyone at this point. A tête-à-tête via zoom is not quite the same.

    I think what has happened is something like the cartoon Pinky and the Brain – the pets have decided to take over the world:

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I suppose you could call a virtual tete-a-tete a “zoom-a-zoom.” ? 😉

      For those with Apple computers, I suppose it would either be a “mac-a-mac” or a “pad-a-pad.”

      (And here we go down THAT giant rabbit hole.)

      Liked by 4 people

  3. I would like to start the theory that chocolate ice cream is the source for happiness and contentment. It is a single source for health and wellness. Big Chocolate has infused it with small particles and high-tech chemistry to work on our brains to make us smile, improving enjoyment of the world. They are so nefarious in this task that they have infiltrated not only the national brands, but also smaller local shops and have slid their happiness chemistry into both milk-based products as well as dairy-free ice cream-like products (looking at you sorbet). This scheme is so wide spread that it makes use of our country’s vast grocery store network as well as individual cows owned by members of Big Chocolate’s secret cabal. Be wary – the hook you in with pints of the stuff on sale, starting you with the basic creamy stuff. Once they have their chemical hooks into you, you will find yourself going deeper into this labyrinthine plot, seeking out artisanal pints that are only found by connecting to others in the darkest corners of this secret society. Be very very careful – if you find yourself caught in this web you may wake up one day laughing.

    (OT – sorry I missed the discussions of 1969… though I was only three at the time, so I have no real memories of that year. it was the same year that Sesame Street premiered, and as a first-generation Sesame Street kid, learning to count and learning my letters from a inclusive cast and a giant yellow bird… well, it probably explains a lot of who I have become.)

    Liked by 5 people

    1. (More OT and related to 1969, I remember Savran’s books – would stop in there with pals after trips to Annie’s Parlor for malts and fries – wonderful, funky place. Bought a copy of Pete Wagner’s “Buy this Book” there that is still on my bookshelves..somewhere…)

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Annie’s Parlor is upstairs of where Art Materials and Perrine’s Bookstore was in 1969. There was a printing company in that upstairs place and when they got the press going you could hear it thump throughout the building.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. I’ve heard that before it was a printing company, the Annie’s Parlor space was a dance club. So there you go.


        2. There used to be an Annie’s on the West Bank just a couple doors down from the 400 Bar and one in Dinkytown that was (as I recall) on the second floor of the building it was in. My high school pals and I most frequently went to the West Bank location. We had their juke box pretty much memorized and it wasn’t really a trip to Annie’s without “Suite Judy Blue Eyes” and a little Arlo Guthrie.

          Liked by 4 people

  4. Isn’t the definition of delusion kind of a slippery slope? Doesn’t it depend on what the prevailing culture believes, whether or not that belief is based in reality? Who gets to decide what’s a delusion?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Conspiracy:
    Many Bible explorers are acquainted with the number 666 in the book of Revelation. There have been a great many efforts made to identify to whom or what this number associated with evil refers. It’s really not as bad as it seems. Revelation 13:16-18 describes a wild beast that has a significant influence on commerce. On Armistice Day, November 11, 1926, the greatest commercial highway in history received its designated number: US 66! There was heated discussion over this as other 60ish even numbers had already be allotted and 66 was actually NORTH of those which put the route out of sequence. But 66 prevailed even as Revelation 13:14, 15 prophesied. Then in 1946, Nat King Cole recorded the great Bobby Troup composition, (Get Your Kicks On) Route 66, thus fulfilling Revelation 13:13 “great song from heaven”. (some translations render it “great sign from heaven). The extra 6 used in many Bible translations is a copyst error.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’ve been cogitating on this one all day. Couldn’t really think of anything which I guess is because there are so many words that started life somehwere else and I just consider them part of my current landscape. My first impulse, during winter, is “fondue”.

    THEN I opened up my email for the day and found this:

    noun [out-vahyn ]
    the Dutch practice of jogging or walking into the wind, especially in the winter, for the purpose of feeling invigorated while relieving stress and boosting one’s general health.

    I love this.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Or even accents. I’ve been doing Duolingo since I got furloughed last year in Italian and every single time I miss an accent it lets me continue but I get a little note saying “don’t forget the accent”. I have no clue if I can’t even get accents on my phone.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Very often it’s “option” whatever letter you want. For example “option” e gives you é, “option” n gives you ñ. “Option” a, o, and , (comma) give you å, ø, and æ, respectively. Have no idea how that works on a phone.


  7. OT but back to the “beans”.
    The January 30, 2021 Bing features the Doomsday Global Seed Vault.
    Hopefully, the North Dakota Nations got their seeds included.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Á la carte, apéritif, hors d’oeuvre, bon appetit and even the word menu. Of course, a lot of the dishes on that menu are French in origin as well. Omelet, quiche, and coq au vin are but a few examples. So many words have been lifted directly from other languages, but are so commonly used in English that we don’t stop to consider their foreign origin. Carte blanche, coup d’etat, déjà vu, bon voyage, faux pas, je ne sais quoi, joie de vivre, laissez-faire, and voilà all fall in that category. Don’t get me started on fashion or lifestyle, French phrases are rampant there: haute couture, avant-garde, and in honor of tim I’ll include chapeau, but you get the idea. Apropos foreign words, there’s just a certain sense of savoir faire in sprinkling such words in our otherwise pretty pedestrian conversations.

    Liked by 2 people

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