Delusional misidentification syndrome

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Delusional misidentification syndrome

Delusional misidentification syndrome is an umbrella term, introduced by Christodoulou (in his book The Delusional Misidentification Syndromes, Karger, Basel, 1986) for a group of four delusional disorders that occur in the context of mental and neurological illness. They are grouped together as they often occur simultaneously or interchange, and they display the common concept of the double (sosie).[1] They all involve a belief that the identity of a person, object, or place has somehow changed or has been altered. Christodoulu further categorized these disorders into those including hypo (or under)-identification of a well-known person (Capgras delusion), and hyper (or over)-identification of an unknown person (the remaining three).[2] As these delusions typically only concern one particular topic, they also fall under the category called monothematic delusions.[3]


This psychopathological syndrome is usually considered to include four main variants:[4][2]

  • The Capgras delusion is the belief that (usually) a close relative or spouse has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor.
  • The Fregoli delusion is the belief that various people the believer meets are actually the same person in disguise.
  • Intermetamorphosis is the belief that an individual has the ability to take the form of another person in both external appearance and internal personality.
  • Subjective doubles, described by Christodoulou in 1978 (American Journal of Psychiatry 135, 249, 1978), is the belief that there is a doppelgänger or double of themselves carrying out independent actions.[5][6][7]

However, similar delusional beliefs, often singularly or more rarely reported, are sometimes also considered to be part of the delusional misidentification syndrome. For example:

  • Mirrored-self misidentification is the belief that one's reflection in a mirror is some other person.
  • Reduplicative paramnesia is the belief that a familiar person, place, object, or body part has been duplicated. For example, a person may believe that they are in fact not in the hospital to which they were admitted, but an identical-looking hospital in a different part of the country, despite this being obviously false.[8]
  • Cotard's syndrome is a rare disorder in which people hold a delusional belief that they are dead (either figuratively or literally), do not exist, are putrefying, or have lost their blood or internal organs. In rare instances, it can include delusions of immortality.[9]
  • Syndrome of delusional companions is the belief that objects (such as soft toys) are sentient beings.[10]
  • Clonal pluralization of the self, where a person believes there are multiple copies of themselves, identical both physically and psychologically, but physically separate and distinct.[11]
  • Clinical lycanthropy is the belief that one is turning or has turned into an animal. It is considered a delusional misidentification of the self.[12]

There is considerable evidence that disorders such as the Capgras or Fregoli syndromes are associated with disorders of face perception and recognition. However, it has been suggested that all misidentification problems exist on a continuum of anomalies of familiarity,[13] from déjà vu at one end to the formation of delusional beliefs at the other.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Christodoulou, George N.; Margariti, Maria; Kontaxakis, Vassilis P.; Christodoulou, Nikos G. (2009). "The delusional misidentification syndromes: strange, fascinating, and instructive". Current Psychiatry Reports. 11 (3): 185–189. doi:10.1007/s11920-009-0029-6. ISSN 1535-1645. PMID 19470279. S2CID 7255596.
  2. ^ a b Bate, Sarah (2017-09-09). Face Recognition and its Disorders. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 978-1-137-29277-3.
  3. ^ Blom, Jan Dirk (2009-12-08). A Dictionary of Hallucinations. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 332. ISBN 978-1-4419-1223-7.
  4. ^ Ellis HD, Luauté JP, Retterstøl N (1994). "Delusional misidentification syndromes". Psychopathology. 27 (3–5): 117–20. doi:10.1159/000284856. PMID 7846223.
  5. ^ Christodoulou G.N. Delusional Misidentification Syndromes, Karger, Basel, 1986
  6. ^ Christodoulou G.N. The Syndrome of Capgras, Br. J. Psychiatry 130, 556, 1977
  7. ^ Christodoulou G.N. Syndrome of Subjective Doubles, Am. J. Psychiat.135,249,1978
  8. ^ Benson DF, Gardner H, Meadows JC (February 1976). "Reduplicative paramnesia". Neurology. 26 (2): 147–51. doi:10.1212/wnl.26.2.147. PMID 943070. S2CID 41547561.
  9. ^ Berrios G.E.; Luque R. (1995). "Cotard Syndrome: clinical analysis of 100 cases". Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. 91 (3): 185–188. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.1995.tb09764.x. PMID 7625193. S2CID 8764432.
  10. ^ Shanks MF, Venneri A (November 2002). "The emergence of delusional companions in Alzheimer's disease: an unusual misidentification syndrome". Cogn Neuropsychiatry. 7 (4): 317–28. doi:10.1080/13546800244000021. PMID 16571545. S2CID 25141272.
  11. ^ Vörös V, Tényi T, Simon M, Trixler M (2003). "'Clonal pluralization of the self': a new form of delusional misidentification syndrome". Psychopathology. 36 (1): 46–8. doi:10.1159/000069656. PMID 12679592. S2CID 29275304.
  12. ^ Guessoum, Sélim Benjamin; Benoit, Laelia; Minassian, Sevan; Mallet, Jasmina; Moro, Marie Rose (2021). "Clinical Lycanthropy, Neurobiology, Culture: A Systematic Review". Frontiers in Psychiatry. 12: 718101. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2021.718101. ISSN 1664-0640. PMC 8542696. PMID 34707519.
  13. ^ Sno HN (1994). "A continuum of misidentification symptoms". Psychopathology. 27 (3–5): 144–7. doi:10.1159/000284861. PMID 7846229.