10 Strange Diseases

by Elizabeth Huff

Need a plague for your traveling healer to fight? Want something to be going wrong in your town? Does your hero have a little too much pep in his step and you want to bring him down a notch? Try using these real life diseases as inspiration.

  • Cotard’s Syndrome – Also known as walking corpse syndrome. It is a rare disorder where people believe that they are dead, do not exist, are putrefying, or have lost their blood or internal organs. Sometimes it can include delusions of immortality.
  • Stendhal Syndrome – This illness can cause confusion, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, fainting, and hallucinations when the subject is exposed to beautiful art.
  • Capgras Syndrome – A subject will believe that a person who has a close relationship with the subject has been replaced by an identical looking imposter. This delusion is associated with a number of conditions.
  • Exploding Head Syndrome – This syndrome causes people to hear a loud noise (like an explosion, gunshot, etc.) coming from inside their own head. It usually, but not always, occurs within an hour or two of falling asleep. It is not usually accompanied with pain.
  • Alien Hand Syndrome – Also known as Dr. Strangelove Syndrome. This disorder causes the afflicted person’s hand to appear to have a mind of its own. A subject will generally dissociate himself from the hand and speak as if the hand is not their own.
  • Synesthesia – When a subject has one sense stimulated, they also have an involuntary stimulation of another. Thus a person can taste words or hear colors. Over 60 types have been reported, but only a fraction of that number have been evaluated.
  • Fregoli Disease – This delusion causes a person to believe that different people are in fact the same person, who changes their appearance or is in disguise. Often the sufferer will feel they are being persecuted by the one in disguise.
  • Intermetamorphosis – A delusional syndrome which causes sufferers to believe they can see others change into someone else.
  • Photic Sneeze Reflex – Also known as sun sneezing. This causes uncontrollable sneezing when suddenly exposed to bright light. Other stimuli, such as injections in the eye, strong flavors, and sudden exposure to cold air, can also cause the sneeze reflex.
  • Morgellon’s Disease – This disease is characterized by a person feeling crawling, biting, and stinging sensations on the skin, finding fibers on or under the skin, and persistent skin lesions. Most doctors think the disease is a manifestation of known medical conditions, or delusional parasitosis.
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