Mental disorders are no reason to throw people away or write them off. Furthermore, mental health conditions also offer the scientific community a vast range of investigative opportunities. Today, let’s take a look at some of the least known, yet significant, facts about mental health that are sometimes most counterintuitive.
10. Lower Suicide Rates in the Intellectual Disabled
Mental retardation, as clinically defined, might seem like an entirely bad thing. But there is an interesting finding and that is that the intellectually disabled actually have a lower rate of suicide than typical individuals. Less rumination on life’s problems perhaps? Suicide rates are a source of high mortality and a significant public health concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 45,000 incidents of suicide in just the United States in the year 2016. However, neurodiversity scholar, accomplished author, and entrepreneur John Elder Robison notes in an article published in Psychology Today that people with either actual mental retardation or other serious mental function impairments have a rate of suicide among their slice of the population that is far lower than the average population.
In fact, the converse is true, with notably high rates of suicide occurring in the mentally “gifted” portions of the population. Many geniuses or highly talented persons have been driven to great depression, having high intellectual abilities and high sensitivity. As a result, there has been a high degree of needless loss of life among those with high intelligence and high rates of life dissatisfaction. Intelligence is great, but overthinking can pose threats.
9. Physical Autism
Phrenology is discredited, but the fact remains certain genetic or behavioral conditions have physical manifestations or correlations. Remarkably, research is showing that facial features may indicate the presence of autism. Research published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders has come up with some startling discoveries, documenting some discrepancies and distinct characteristics that are strongly associated with the typical characteristics of autism understood in a behavioral and neurological context.
For one, tufts of hair growing in a direction different from the rest of the hair may be present in those affected, while the usual symmetry of the human face may be lacking in either an obvious or subtler way in a percentage of the autistic population. The presence of increased forehead prominence also offers clues. Study findings documented by Molecular Autism point to observation of a suite of traits in boys with autism who had not yet reached puberty. Specifically, the 3D imaging technique applied in the study found narrow cheeks, reduced philtrum length (cleft in between the nose and upper lip), and a flatter nose profile.
8. Factitious Disorder
We are not talking about hypochondria here, which needs no introduction as the constant and overblown fear that one is sick. Instead, we contrast the bizarre but relatable condition called factitious disorder. These people are not really sick in the first place, and they are certainly not afraid of being sick. They have a profound psychological desire to be sick to the point of making themselves sick, and that is itself a sickness that is very hard to treat.
Disturbing is the fact that there are two forms of factitious disorder known to afflict sufferers: one involving what could be termed a form of self-harm, and a second — perhaps far more disturbing version of the condition — where the affected experiences and acts on a pressing urge to inflict sickness and related medical problems on an innocent individual or even a pet, who is then presented to medical care workers. Factitious disorders are thought to represent approximately one percent of American hospital cases taken, but specific figures remain elusive. A variety of warning signs noticed by trained professionals can indicate factitious disorder, including excessive eagerness to discuss medical challenges with physicians, prolific scarring from unnecessary surgeries, and avoidance of psychiatric care.
7. Kluver-Bucy Syndrome Makes You Weird but Docile
Sensuality and pleasure might be part of the typical human experience, but Kluver-Bucy Syndrome sees this a little, well… misdirected. The disorder sees sufferers developing strange mouthing behaviors, where objects are placed in the mouth. Extreme cases may even result in one desiring to eat books. Sexual confusion is common, with victims of Kluver-Bucy Syndrome wanting to have intimate interactions with inanimate objects and so forth. A most distracting, confusing, and life-disrupting condition, Kluver-Bucy Syndrome is also associated with an absence of normal fear and anger responses as well as problems with focus and attention.
As a result, those affected behave most inappropriately or unsafely, but are not aggressive or dangerous though their behavior may get them into serious trouble. Causes of the condition are diverse and unusual, with herpes encephalitis — a serious swelling and inflammation condition of the brain caused by the herpes virus — and head injury having been associated with occurrence. Problems with object and pattern recognition, as well as seizures and dementia, may affect sufferers in addition to the aberrant ingestion issues, unemotional behavior, and sexual problems. This most unusual condition does not occur commonly, but is quite distinctive in its constellation of symptoms.
6. Cannabis Induced Psychosis
Marijuana may be legal in certain jurisdictions, but the evidence shows that high potency cannabis contains chemical compounds that are psychoactive in a way that triggers psychosis at higher rates than non-user control groups. Too much THC appears to have a very real risk of disconnecting users from reality. Research published in the British Journal of Psychiatry outlined a study of 280 individuals who were cannabis users, and compared the effects of more standard cannabis use with consumption of high-potency cannabis.
The results were most interesting and alarming, showing a notable correlation between initial occurrence of psychotic conditions and the high-potency cannabis usage. High-potency cannabis contains significantly increased levels of THC, with study members who had used it being more likely to experience an episode of psychotic states of mind. Increasingly widespread use of more potent forms of cannabis, such as “skunk,” thus may represent a concern for public health, specifically mental health.
5. Human-made Mental Illness
With civilization changing so dramatically, it may come as something of a surprise that we’re seeing entirely man-made mental illness. A very real condition now exists called social media anxiety disorder. And just like alcohol misuse can correlate with drunk driving, when social media anxiety disorder gets out of hand, it can translate into social media addiction that conflicts with safe driving, holding a job, or even staying relatively sane and able to live a balanced life. Social Media Anxiety Disorder is somewhat akin to social anxiety disorder in its characteristics and manifestations, and is classified as a mental disorder. The condition causes sufferers to experience significant stress when they cannot be around social media to their level of perceived need, which can be extreme.
Constant account monitoring may result in serious cases. The condition manifests like a drug addiction, presenting a slew of negative effects that can include, ironically, anti-social behavior including avoiding real world social contact, compulsive posting and sharing, keeping your phone with you at all times, problems with work and school performance, lying about usage, and even getting tangible symptoms of withdrawal affecting mind and body. If unable to check notifications for some reason, sufferers may develop panic responses. Physical symptoms including eyestrain, and overuse injuries can occur, along with back pain, neck pain, and insomnia.
Think you’re indecisive? Think again. While many of us might describe ourselves as having a bout of “indecision” when confronted with the plethora of brands of beans in a supermarket, for example, Aboulomania takes the inability to make a decision to a whole new level. Such a level, in fact, that Aboulomania is a mental disability characterized by life impairing indecision so severe that the simplest choices become a massive undertaking for sufferers.
While some mental disorders are defined by non-social behavior, the actions of those affected by Aboulomania can be anti-social in an unintended manner. People who know the victim may grow exasperated by constantly being badgered for opinions, being asked to decide on their behalf on matters ranging from the mundane to the enormous. Others may simply be forced to step in when the sufferer does nothing and life necessities demand a choice be made. Researchers regard the condition as mysterious, but consider a lack of opportunity to decide in childhood to be a possible factor. Additionally, issues affecting the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, responsible for judgement and decisions, are seen as possibly to blame.
3. The Strangest Eating Disorder Affects Pregnant Women, and Children
Eating disorders. They are notorious, affect far more people than models or modeling wannabes, and can certainly leading to life threatening starvation. But the diversity of eating disorders goes far beyond simple starvation (Anorexia Nervosa) or Bulimia Nervosa, characterized by eating and purging. Pica, which as been called the strangest eating disorder in the world, centers around a bizarre and self-destructive bent for eating the inedible and consuming the incomprehensible. The disorder is often concealed, and may even be discovered surgically after hospitalization for mysterious symptoms. Pregnant women and children are the most affected, with a correlation between pica occurrence and significant poverty.
Frequently, the same category of object will be repeatedly consumed, in quantity. The fact that mineral supplementation has had some success in addressing pica symptoms suggests a nutritional deficiency element as a significant underlying cause of the condition. Pica sufferers may amass quantities of coins, cigarettes, or even — horrifically — extremely sharp and deadly objects, such as needles, in their stomachs. As well as being physically dangerous, objects ingested may be poisonous, such as lead, or disease ridden.
2. Depression Betrays Itself Through Words
Depression is a common yet insufficiently understood illness affecting mind and body. Interestingly, while depression comes in a range of forms, there is a clearly definable speech pattern that gives away depressed ways of thinking and being. First of all, there is the obvious. Depressed people certainly use “sad” negative words such as lonely, isolated, or upset. But surprisingly, there is a significant uptick in the frequency of self-referential pronouns that are first person and singular, namely “me,” “myself,” and “I.” It seems that a high focus on self in the form of a sad, negative self-absorption is involved in some cases.
The person becomes absorbed in their miserable experience of self, that is. The phenomenon has lead to questions of whether focus on self might actually bring about depression symptoms. Furthermore, absolute statements that are negative and black and white are related to depression, and may be in the form of words like “never,” “always,” and “nothing,” for example. It is likely that such ways of thinking and feeling are self-reinforcing in many patients, leading to yet more depression via logical errors in thought and perception. While the observations can be disturbing, the existence of a clear correlation between certain patterns of expression in written form or speech may shed insight into what type of thinking and reasoning is associated with depression.
1. Mirror-touch Synesthesia
Possibly one of the weirdest ways in which the brain can trick an individual, Mirror-touch Synaesthesia is a bizarre mental malfunction that causes something akin to excess empathy, but in a far too literal way. The term synesthesia in the name refers to the fact that stimulation of one sense triggers another sensory system. The mirror portion of the name indicates that what others experience are experienced by the sufferer in a sensory manner. Essentially, sufferers will actually feel or hear what others are feeling or hearing.
The effect has been compared to that of having a phantom limb, but affecting the whole body. If a person with Mirror-touch Synesthesia witnesses an individual being hugged by a third party, that individual will themselves experience the sensation and corresponding emotions of being hugged. The situation could worsen if the other person was experiencing a painful situation. If someone got cut or dropped a pot on their foot, the person with the condition who was watching would experience great discomfort. Significant impairment could result from the condition in certain circumstances, causing confusion between one’s own life and comfort or discomfort and others. Fortunately, the condition is rare.