The Top 10 Strangest Mental Disorders

The mind is a strange thing. Humans are not even aware of the brain’s full potential, and only use a small portion of their brain cells. The possibilities for intellectual growth seem limitless. On the other end of the spectrum, however, are great numbers of individuals who experience mental malfunctions. Physical trauma to the brain is easily diagnosed, but many develop disorders with no outward indication of damage. Here are some of the strangest mental disorders that have had psychologists puzzled for decades:


Have you ever been paralyzed with indecision? Maybe you’ve had to make a choice that seemed impossible, and felt as though you couldn’t go on until you decided your course of action. Those who suffer from aboulomania experience this in an extreme form. While they are otherwise normal in their mental functioning, they randomly encounter situations in their daily lives that require them to make a decision, but “cause” them such a high level of anxiety that they can no longer function normally. It can be as simple as trying to decide what to wear or what to have for breakfast; there are no patterns to the sudden paralysis. They are simply stuck agonizing over a simple choice.


Those who suffer from boanthropy believe that they are an ox or cow of some sort. They will eat grass, meander in fields, and attempt to live the life of a bovine. Psychologists have no idea why people develop this disorder. Theories include the idea that an individual may dream of being a cow and continue the delusion into their waking lives. Other theories revolve around hypnotism. Boanthropy appears to have been around since at least the time of Nebudchadnezzer, the leader of the Babylonion Empire, who was believed to suffer from this disorder. Accounts of his behavior say that, “he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen.”


Have you ever met someone who was so self-absorbed he couldn’t imagine anyone not liking him? In an extreme version of that delusion, sufferers of erotomania believe someone is in love with them. They often focus on individuals of higher social status, often a celebrity. The delusion is difficult to break, even if the “admirer” confronts that person, proclaiming no romantic feelings whatsoever.

Capgras Syndrome

Capgras syndrome is Invasion of the Body-Snatchers come alive. Sufferers believe that someone, usually a friend or family member, has been kidnapped and replaced with an identical impostor. While this is a common occurrence in those suffering from schizophrenia, it has also been recorded in patients diagnosed with seizure disorders, dementia, or traumatic brain injuries. The disease is usually treated with anti-psychotics, but results tend to be scattered.

Stockholm Syndrome

In cases of Stockholm syndrome, a captive individual begins to hold positive associations with their captor, showing them loyalty, compliance, and sympathy. In most cases, the captives are brainwashed to believe that their previous life was a lie, or their loved ones did not care about them. Treating this syndrome is a difficult and time-consuming process, often involving psychiatric care and drugs.

Munchausen Syndrome

Sufferers of Munchausen syndrome have a compulsive need to cause themselves harm or sickness in order to gain the attention of loved ones and medical professionals. Even stranger is Munchausen syndrome by proxy, wherein someone (usually a mother or caregiver) tries to attract attention by making someone else sick. Some might compare this disease to hypochondria, but there is a significant difference: hypochondriacs believe they have the disease, while Munchausen suffers are aware they are exaggerating or lying about their physical condition.

Cotard Syndrome

Zombies may be all the rage in today’s pop culture, but people with Cotard syndrome sincerely believe they are dead, dying, decaying, or missing all of their blood and/or organs. This is another disorder that is commonly seen in schizophrenic patients, although it was not officially recognized by the medical community until 2004.


Bigorexia could be described as the opposite of anorexia. Instead of trying to get tiny, an individual is obsessed with gaining muscle mass and becoming large. Extremely vain and constantly worried about their appearance, bigorexics frequently check their mirrors. They may become severely agitated if they have to skip their regular workout. Most often, they use steroids to help them achieve their goals.


As a form of hoarding, bibliomania causes individuals to obsessively collect and store books. This is not the average book lover, though. It can only be classified as this disorder if the behavior is over-the-top; the book hoarder might have more than one copy of the same book, or their need to collect books interferes with social or professional relationships.


Trichotillomania, a particularly destructive form of OCD, is indicated by a person’s compulsive urge to pull out their hair a single strand at a time. Usually, this is not just the hair on a person’s head, either. They might rip out eyelashes, arm hair, eyebrows, or any other hair on their body. In some extreme cases, the individual feels compelled to eat the hair, as well.

Many people pride themselves on their eccentricity, but they usually act in such a way deliberately, simply to be perceived as “strange.” For those who truly are suffering from rare and damaging disorders, being strange is a burden they must struggle to control. They can’t help their dysfunction, and until scientists figure out all the complex workings of the human brain, these disorders will continue to be a source of wonderment.