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.