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10 Fascinating Syndromes That Only Exist in Your Head

by M Goldswain
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

The expression “it’s all in your head” can be used to support a strong case for almost anything that occurs in the world. Essentially, this forms the basis of Cartesian philosophy. And even while our understanding of reality and our place in it may have progressed beyond that, much of what we take to be true in the world is still undoubtedly made up.

In fact, several syndromes that can affect someone are essentially nothing more than our minds playing tricks on us, whether caused by popular culture, preconceptions, side effects of medical conditions, or something else entirely. So here are 10 fascinating syndromes that only exist in your head.

Related: Top 10 Rare Diseases That Change Your Appearance

10 Gourmand Syndrome

There are numerous adverse outcomes that a traumatic brain injury can induce. Undoubtedly, gourmand syndrome is one of the most peculiar. A sufferer of a certain kind of brain damage may develop an obsession with gourmet meals. It involves more than just indulging in delicious food—it involves talking, writing, and reading about it all.

Since the condition alters one’s relationship with food, doctors have classified it as a benign eating disorder. Lesions in the same region of the brain have been seen in most patients with the illness, indicating that trauma in that particular area is the cause.

The illness was initially noted in the 1990s, and a political reporter who experienced it in one instance changed careers to become a cuisine writer.[1]

9 Daughter from California Syndrome

As We Get Older: The Daughter from California

You might be familiar with daughter from California syndrome if you work in the medical field. That’s the word for a phenomenon that has been seen repeatedly by healthcare professionals when interacting with elderly or terminal patients. Although it’s a really depressing scenario, it happens frequently enough for the professionals to have given it a name.

As a patient approaches the end of their life, it occasionally happens that a relative who has never paid them a visit shows up, knowing that the patient’s time is running out. This individual—dubbed the “Daughter from California”—has a brazen demeanor, tries to handle every facet of the dying patient’s care even though they have never been involved before, and acts as though they are more knowledgeable than the medical staff who have been providing care for the patient the entire time.

It’s thought that they typically seek drastic measures to save their relative’s life since they feel guilty and deny ever being involved in the first place. Even if they are merely in the way, they have this mental notion that they can take control and make things different.[2]

8 Third Man Syndrome

Exploring The Third Man Theory: Is it Paranormal or Psychological?

Third man syndrome, one of the most enigmatic illnesses you’re likely to read about, is frequently described as just having a guardian angel. Numerous accounts indicate that people have seen a mysterious presence with them in situations where survival is at stake. While exploring Antarctica in the early 1900s, Sir Ernest Shackleford was among the first to write about this occurrence. He wrote of journeying across the icy landscape with two other men in his notebooks, and at one point, he felt as though they were truly traveling with a fourth person.

Since Shackleford’s time, other individuals who have encountered dire situations have also sensed the presence of a different entity, a kind of guide. These have included mountain climbers, explorers, and survivors of shipwrecks. Frank Smyth attempted to ascend Mount Everest in 1933 and experienced a mysterious companion who helped him overcome his feelings of loneliness.

At one point, he broke his food rations in two and attempted to give them to the man who wasn’t there since his feelings for Smyth were so strong. It was even physical for Ron DiFrancesco, the final survivor of the South Tower. He claimed to have felt someone take his hand and lead him out of the smoke.

The science underlying the phenomenon is not fully understood because it has not been thoroughly explored. Some contend it could be a guardian angel, but some propose this is a natural human survival response. In the worst situations, a method to gather your thoughts and concentrate on preserving your own life.[3]

7 Anton Syndrome

Anton’s Syndrome: The Brain That Is Blind But Thinks It Can See | Extraordinary Brains #4

We are aware that denying reality when faced with issues like illness or death is typical. However, the precise way that shows up can be unexpected. Patients who suffer from blindness but refuse to accept it can develop Anton syndrome. Those who have it deny that they are blind and instead make up stories or reasons for what they think they see. In a case from history supposed to represent Anton syndrome, the patient merely insisted on being transferred because she thought every room she was in was too gloomy.

In the face of evidence that they are blind, sufferers will not accept that they are blind. Instead, they will invent stories to explain their blindness and act as though they can see objects or persons in the room that aren’t there.[4]

6 Stendhal Syndrome

Stendhal Syndrome – Sick from Too Much Art? – Documentary

There are people out there who take art very seriously. You could even have witnessed or known someone who intensely reacts emotionally to works of art. Maybe that’s what art is all about. To evoke emotions in others. However, Stendhal syndrome elevates this to a new plane.

Thousands of visitors visit Florence, Italy, each year to view the artwork there. A small percentage of those countless visitors will cry because they are so moved by the artwork they encounter.

The condition can cause dizziness, heart palpitations, hallucinations, and panic attacks in those who experience it. Researchers believe it happens when one is exposed to so much exceptional and historical art that it overwhelms the senses, a phenomenon known as an “Art Attack.” In 1989, psychiatrists properly recognized the ailment as a psychiatric disease.[5]

5 Capgras Syndrome

Capgras Delusion (Impostor Syndrome): Bizarre Neurological Disorder

The idea that something or someone significant has been replaced by an identical replica is known as Capgras syndrome. The illness is not limited to mental health; it may also result from neurodegenerative diseases or brain trauma. The typical symptoms of the condition involve the belief that a loved one or someone close to them has been switched. But it also seems that some individuals may assume that specific items or pets have been victims of the same replacement plan.

Those who experience the illness may think that a fake has temporarily replaced a loved one or that it has happened over a longer period. Additionally, they think that the imposter’s identity can be determined by modest physical cues. They think this will allow them to distinguish between the real person and the impostor.[6]

4 De Clerambault Syndrome

Most of us have likely experienced unrequited love at some point. You must simply roll with the punches and carry on with your life because it’s an inevitable thing. Clerambault syndrome is a disorder in which you believe someone else is longing for you rather than the other way around.

Also known as erotomania, it is defined as the hallucinatory conviction that you are the object of someone else’s romantic or professional admiration. Almost usually, women receive a diagnosis; however, there have been rumors that men may not be receiving enough diagnoses. The state can be short-lived or have lasting effects, with the person believing they are being sought after and that the other person is infatuated with you while not feeling the same way.[7]

3 Salieri Syndrome


Italian musician Antonio Salieri has a lengthy history of being linked to a rivalry with Mozart. This rivalry has even been the subject of a short novel, an opera, and the film Amadeus. There isn’t much evidence to support the existence of rivalry in real life. And none that Salieri attempted to poison Mozart ever did. It’s a good thing that reality is unimportant to this list.

The phenomenon known as Salieri syndrome occurs when individuals who may be highly skilled feel that someone more gifted is overshadowing them and, because of their jealousy, deliberately work to discredit their potential rivals. This has been investigated in group settings, where it has been demonstrated to weaken the group as a whole and lower everyone’s performance.

Despite being a historical relic, the name is most frequently used in professional settings. According to the group research, when an employee deliberately undermines someone else because they believe they are superior to them, not only does the target of the abuse suffer, but they also bring the entire workplace down with them. All this solely depends on how they view themselves and their place in the dynamic. Everyone now does poorly, even though they may have done well if they had left well enough alone.[8]

2 Chinese Restaurant Syndrome

The Truth About MSG and Your Health

How do you feel about MSG? For many years, monosodium glutamate was demonized in the media and seen as a hazardous food additive that, if you were ever exposed to it, would endanger your happiness and health. At one point, the situation became so severe that people began blaming their diseases and the adverse effects on consuming Chinese food. They referred to the phenomenon as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” which was supposedly caused by the widespread usage of MSG in the meals at the time.

The peculiar thing about MSG is that it isn’t some bizarre artificial substance. It is made from L-glutamic acid and is found naturally in various foods. It can be made by fermenting carbohydrates such as molasses or beet sugar. Additionally, it can be found naturally in several foods, such as cheese and tomatoes.

Chinese cuisine syndrome is said to induce a wide range of symptoms, including weakness, perspiration, nausea, and headaches. The issue is that there has never been solid scientific evidence connecting this to MSG. While Chinese restaurants became more and more famous in the West throughout the 1960s and 1980s, this purported condition gained notoriety at the same time. However, it is now thought that a large portion of the so-called symptoms and MSG’s demonization are the result of ignorance and prejudice.[9]

1 Puppy Pregnancy Syndrome

The Bizarre World Of Puppy Pregnancy Syndrome

Puppy pregnancy syndrome is a disorder like no other. If for no other reason than the fact that it sounds completely fictitious and the people who experience it are obviously not telling the truth. Nevertheless, it has happened multiple times, and researchers have identified the syndrome’s symptoms.

The illness, which appears to be primarily confined to one region of India, seems to be cultural. After being bitten by a dog or coming into contact with one, six men and one woman said they were certain the dog had gotten them pregnant. They thought they were carrying a puppy litter. While a small percentage of those who reported having the illness did have some history of mental health issues, the majority did not. The only similarity between them was that they all came from rural areas close to Calcutta.

Few in the village deny the condition’s plausibility; the great majority of residents think it is totally real. Dog saliva is believed to have the potential to make someone pregnant, particularly if the dog bites the person while it is very aroused. Nobody explained how they arrived at that decision.

Males are reported to die if they bring their puppy litter to term. However, local healers are said to have the ability to treat the condition—possibly for a charge.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen