Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Capgras Syndrome: Real Life Invasion of a Body Snatcher

Timothy Sexton

Remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers and how at first the good doctor played by Montgomery Clift's best friend Kevin McCarthy kept thinking people were crazy because they were convinced that their loved ones had been replaced by exact duplicates; imposters who may have looked and acted just like their wives or uncles, but who they knew were not those people? Turned out that these people had been replaced by pod people during the night. Eventually, of course, everyone in McCarthy's hometown succumbed to pod-dom, even his creepily attractive girlfriend Dana Wynter. By the movie's end McCarthy is reduced to sounding like a lunatic as he tries to convince San Francisco police that an entire town has been replaced by imposters. There is actually a psychological disorder call Capgras Syndrome that bears a strong similarity to this fear of pods from outer space.

Capgras syndrome was first discovered by a French psychiatrist named J. Capgras. What a coincidence that the syndrome was discovered by a guy with the exact same name, huh? I mean what are the odds of that? Actually, in all seriousness, Capgras initially called the disorder "L'illusion de sosies", which is German for "the illusion of doubles." Every one of Capgras' original patients were women and the overwhelming number of recorded cases of Capgras Syndrome have been women, but men have hardly been immune to it. There is some divergence in whether Capgras Syndrome is deserving of being a disorder on its own. While the French, as you might expect, have defined it as a mental disorder, in America and some the countries it is typically viewed as a symptom of a larger disorder such as paranoid schizophrenia or manic depression.
Article continues

I recently witnessed this disorder first hand, it sent a chill down my spine to say the least. The person was much calmer than the guy in the movie, but was very afraid and convinced that her husband was no longer the same person. Yeah he looked the same and sounded the same, but it was "not really him".


diane said...

There's another term for it: Manchurian Candidate. But could that possibly be what you were driving at?

texlahoma said...

Diane - You are getting to know me pretty well, but no, I wasn't thinking that deeply.
I use to work in a mental hospital and took a few psychology classes, I think mental illness is fascinating. When people ask me how long I worked on a mental ward my standard reply is
"Apparently, just a little too long."

diane said...

That IS interesting work Tex.

Blog Archive