What is Capgras Delusion?
Capgras delusion is a neuro-psychological disorder where the patients fear their loved ones as impostors who pose a threat to their life. As a result, it is also called Impostor’s syndrome. The delusions towards the family members impersonating can be of varied effects- from periodic doubts to paranoia and psychosis.
The impostor syndrome is not limited to misidentifying people but also can extend to animals and favorite possessions. This irrational belief surrounds them to such a degree that rational reasoning doesn’t help much.
In the patient’s reality, there exist two or more clones of the same person- tricking and manipulating them. And sometimes they also fear that the original person is either in danger or dead.
The emotional bearing of the mind overpowers their intellectual faculty. Capgras syndrome projects quite well the importance of emotions and the vital role it plays in our life. When the emotional responses go bad, it can have a severe effect on our reasoning.
Capgras delusion has no specific cause that is accepted widely. However, many theories are believed to cause the disorder.
- Different mental disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, or Schizophrenia are found to show the symptoms of Capgras syndrome.
- Brain stroke and Epilepsy are also believed to catalyze the effects.
- Some claim that right hemisphere lesions are the cause of delusions. Researchers always found lesions in the right hemisphere on Capgras syndrome patients. If the lesion heals by itself, the patient improves too.
- The most popular and accepted explanation of the cause is that there is a broken link between the emotional and the facial recognition area of the brain. The inferotemporal cortex is associated with visual recognition, especially facial recognition, and the limbic system deals with emotions and behavioral responses. When the connection between the two is severed, the patient recognizes the face correctly but is unable to evoke emotions for the person that was once there. Research studies found that the syndrome always has a broken link between the two parts irrespective of the location of the cut.
There is no definite treatment for Capgras delusion. Generally, psychiatrists prescribe treatments based on the symptoms.
Since delusions are the main symptom of the syndrome, most often antipsychotic and antidepressant drugs are administered. In cases where the patients suffer from epilepsy, antiepileptic medicines are given as well.
Along with medicines, therapy is important. Not only for patients but also for the close family members who are suffering on equal levels as the patient. The family needs to understand the disease. Else, the patient’s accusations can hurt them beyond repair.
The patient on the other hand will not come around simply with normal psychotherapy. However, they show positive results with validation therapy where the counselor ensures the patient that they are safe and that the ‘impostors’ are harmless and won’t hurt them.