Top 10 ‘Craziest’ Mental Disorders

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Throughout history, mental disorders have been regarded with fear, bias, and ignorance.  Though medicine has drastically improved for the mentally ill in the last century, mainstream society still has a relatively uninformed and biased view against individuals with mental disorders.  This is particularly harmful because every year up to ¼ of Americans fit the criteria for being mentally ill.

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Media has done its best to show us the crazy sides of the mentally ill, but how crazy is crazy?  If ¼ of the population is “crazy”, how dangerous is society?  This list counts down the most life-interfering disorders, and explores how the individuals fit into our life.

Note: There are many other disorders, some similar to the disorders mentioned.  All information is received from the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision”.

For more information about Mental Health please visit MentalHealthAmerica.org. Formerly known as the National Mental Health Association, they also have a crisis line 1-800-273-TALK that you can call if you, a friend, or a love one is going through a tough time.

10. Type One Bipolar Disorder

What It Is

Bipolar disorder has been talked about a lot.  It has received vast media coverage and most individuals have at least a general idea of what it is.  Bipolar disorder makes an individual switch between two main moods: mania (emotions like happiness and anger) and depression (emotions like sadness and guilt).  Unlike the media interpretation, Bipolar disorder’s mood swings actually take a long time.  Each swing lasts about a week on average, with a few days’ transition in between.  Bipolar has been known to cause psychosis in some patients, but for the most part it manifests in irrational actions, heightened emotions, and lack of sleep during mania; and tiredness, aches, and lethargy during depression.  Patients often have very little self control and are at the mercy of their moods.

How It Fits

2.6% of the adult population is bipolar.  The disorder is genetic, and is generally easy to treat with medications.  In some cases therapy isn’t needed.  The biggest risk is unmedicated patients, who are often a harm to themselves (unmedicated bipolar disorder has a 25% suicide rate) and sometimes to those around them.

9. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

What It Is

OCD is another widely known disorder, but few understand it.  Firstly, OCD isn’t an obsession with cleanliness.  It can manifest in being clean, but that’s only one aspect.  Obsessive-Compulsive patients are often plagued with recurring thoughts, worries, and fears that can only be relieved by repeating tasks (cleaning, touching surfaces, making noises, etc.)  Obsessive-Compulsive individuals can realize their fears are unreasonable, but the anxiety will keep mounting unless they relieve them by their repetitive tasks.

How It Fits

1% of adults have OCD.  Psychiatrists haven’t figured out the cause of OCD yet, some think it may be caused by environments, others by chemicals in the brain.  The treatment varies per patient, but is generally manageable through psychotherapy and certain medications.  OCD patients are not really dangerous to others, but their lives can be difficult and their behaviors may seem odd.

8. Factitious Disorder

What It Is

Factitious Disorder is an obsession with being sick.  Unlike hypochondria, in which patients actually think they are ill, individuals with Factitious Disorder intentionally make themselves sick or play sick for attention.  They often tell elaborate stories about medical complications, visit hospitals, tamper with their medications, and inflict harm upon themselves for attention.

How It Fits

Factitious Disorder is rare in adults, and occurs in less than .5% of the population.  The disorder stems from past trauma.  There is no cure or treatment for the disorder, though psychotherapy can be effective in limiting the behavior.  Most individuals with the disorder are not receptive to treatment.

7. Schizoaffective Disorder

What It Is

Schizoaffective Disorder is a bizarre combination of severe Bipolar Disorder and mild Schizophrenia.  Patients will have manic and depressive mood swings, and, as a third swing, will lose touch with reality.  Most often, Schizoaffective patients will experience low emotional responses in the third, psychotic phase.  They can become delusional, and sometimes may hallucinate.  The psychotic swing is mild in comparison to most psychotic disorders, however, and can often go unnoticed, leading to a misdiagnosis of severe Type One Bipolar.

How It Fits

.5% of Americans have Schizoaffective Disorder.  Psychiatrists believe the disorder is genetic and chemical.  The disorder is relatively easy to treat with combinations of medicines.  Most people with the disorder can function normally in society as long as they are medicated.  Like Bipolar Disorder, Schizoaffective Disorder has a very high suicide rate when untreated.

6. Depersonalization Disorder

What It Is

Depersonalization Disorder gives individuals a sense that they are not in their body.  Individuals will feel like they aren’t their physical self, or that their life is some sort of movie or dream.  They struggle to form connections with people because they don’t feel as if anything is real.  They have the ability to logically know they are ill, but cannot shake the feeling of detachment.

How It Fits

Depersonalization is also very rare, effecting less than .5% of the population.  It is caused by traumatic events.  The reason depersonalization is so “crazy” is because there are no treatments.  No medications are effective on the disorder, and psychotherapy seems to only help some patients, but not all.  Some people will feel detached from reality for the rest of their life after a traumatic event.

5. Trichotillomania



What It Is

Possibly one of the most physically disruptive disorders, Trichotillomania is an obsession with pulling out hair.  Individuals with this disorder will constantly pull out body hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes.   Patients get overwhelming urges to pull at their hair, only reaching relief when they’ve done it.  Individuals will go to great lengths to hide their bald spots, but for some the disorder becomes too bad to cover up.

How It Fits

Trichotillomania is also very rare.  No one knows what causes it, but it is possible to overcome through psychotherapy.  Some cases benefit from medication.  People who have the disorder may be feared because of their appearance, and it’s not uncommon for them to be featured on daytime talk shows.

4. Specific Phobia

What It Is

It seems strange that Phobias rank so high up on the list, but they are where they are because they can be so interfering with lives.  Most people think a phobia is just an unease or mild fear of an object; actually, a phobia is an unmanageable terror of everyday things.  There are many subcategories and specific names for different Phobias, but they all fall under the same disorder.  Phobic individuals will go to extreme lengths to avoid their unreasonable fears.  They can experience physical symptoms such as racing pulses and strained breathing if exposed to their fear.

How It Fits

Phobias are incredibly common, effecting 8.7% of people.  They are caused by traumatic childhood events- most of the time patients can’t remember the event.  The most common techniques for treating phobias are exposure therapy (in which the patient must confront their fear slowly and with the guidance of a psychiatric professional) and hypnotherapy (which helps patients to remember the cause of the fear).  Patients are able to recover, and even untreated patients may blend in to normal society.

3. Antisocial Personality Disorder

What It Is

Amongst the most basic, common, but dangerous disorders, antisocial disorder is also known as sociopathy and psychopathy.  Individuals with this disorder either have no empathy, leading to no morals, or no emotion at all.  The ones who have emotion, but no empathy, are extremely dangerous.  They make excellent liars, are often charismatic, and feel no remorse for any harm they cause anyone.  Their brains simply can’t make the connections to evoke empathy.  Because of this, they can do terrible things without a care.  As you might imagine, most Antisocial patients become involved in crime.  A majority of serial killers have been diagnosed with this disorder.   Some individuals, especially the emotionless ones, are able to fit in to society without causing any harm, but can never relate to people on the same level normal individuals can.

How It Fits

1% of Americans have Antisocial Personality Disorder, but only 50% are treated.  A majority of people with the disorder end up involved in crime.  There is no cure for the disorder, and the only treatment for it is to teach the patients to act normal, although they’ll still never be able to grasp ethics or even emotion.

2. Dissociative Identity Disorder

What It Is

DID, formerly Multiple Personality Disorder, is a very severe disorder caused by severe trauma.  An individual with this disorder will split his/her personality into two or three different identities and cycle between them.  A 50 year old man may think he’s a 6 year old girl, and spend his time playing with dolls and wearing dresses.  This disorder has also had a lot of media coverage but is very misunderstood.  Individuals with this disorder rarely take on more than three identities, and it’s almost impossible to make them aware that they have it.  They cannot live normal lives because they may switch identities at any point, sometimes staying an identity for years, sometimes for hours.

How It Fits

This disorder is also very rare.  It can only be found in about .1% of Americans.  There are no medications to fix the disorder, but hypnotherapy can be useful in merging the identities.  Patients cannot live in normal society unless they have gone through extensive therapy and their identities have been merged.  Otherwise, they live in psychiatric institutions or they are constantly cared for by family and friends.

1. Schizophrenia

What It Is

Schizophrenia, in short, is a loss of reality.  Symptoms include inappropriate (or few) emotions, paranoia, obsession with media, false beliefs about the body, beliefs of being famous or powerful, auditory and visual hallucinations, and catatonia (a completely unaware and unresponsive state).  Unmedicated schizophrenics can’t tell what is in their head and what is real, leading them to act strangely.  There are different levels in the loss of reality, some are able to function normally for short periods of time.

How It Fits

For such a severe disorder, a giant 1% of Americans have it.  This means that for every 100 people, one is schizophrenic.  Schizophrenia is very genetic, and is often treatable with medication.  Most medicated Schizophrenics are able to function completely normally, as long as they take medication every day.  The disorder will never go away and skipping just one day of medication can jeopardize the patient’s sanity.  The crime rates of schizophrenics are actually not as high as other disorders, but the individuals are much more troubled and much farther from reality.

By Alexandria V. Resnica.


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62 Comments

  1. Hemant Kakodia on

    Hi, I am Hemant Kakodia from India. I was suffering from OCD for years. I used to do things repeatedly for number of time. I used to wash hands multiple time even after knowing i have already washed that. I was under medication and that worked for sometime but after leaving medication, there was mental effect as medicines were strong. After this, with time, it went off and now i am OCD free but sometimes i do wash hands multiple time but not like old time. If anyone is suffering from this, then will power is required to vanish this.

  2. I think this list is way off topic. “Craziest” Mental Disorders? These are not them. I found a list that is full of way more rare, and way more bizarre diseases.

    10. Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in an abducted hostage, in which the hostage shows signs of sympathy, loyalty or even voluntary compliance with the hostage taker, regardless of the risk in which the hostage has been placed.

    9. Lima Syndrome – The exact opposite of Stockholm syndrome – this is where the hostage takers become more sympathetic to the plights and needs of the hostages.

    8. Diogenes Syndrome – a condition characterised by extreme self neglect, reclusive tendencies, and compulsive hoarding, sometimes of animals. It is found mainly in old people and is associated with senile breakdown.

    7. Paris Syndrome – a condition exclusive to Japanese tourists and nationals, which causes them to have a mental breakdown while in the famous city. Of the millions of Japanese tourists that visit the city every year, around a dozen suffer this illness and have to be returned to their home country. The condition is basically a severe form of ‘culture shock’.

    6. Stendhal Syndrome – a psychosomatic illness that causes rapid heartbeat, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations when an individual is exposed to art, usually when the art is particularly ‘beautiful’ or a large amount of art is in a single place.

    5. Jerusalem Syndrome – the name given to a group of mental phenomena involving the presence of either religiously themed obsessive ideas, delusions or other psychosis-like experiences that are triggered by, or lead to, a visit to the city of Jerusalem.

    4. Capgras Delusion – a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that an acquaintance, usually a spouse or other close family member, has been replaced by an identical looking impostor.

    3. Fregoli Delusion – The exact opposite of the Capgras delusion – the Fregoli delusion is a rare disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that different people are in fact a single person who changes appearance or is in disguise.

    2. Cotard Delusion – a rare psychiatric disorder in which a person holds a delusional belief that he or she is dead, does not exist, is putrefying or has lost their blood or internal organs. Rarely, it can include delusions of immortality.

    1. Reduplicative Paramnesia – the delusional belief that a place or location has been duplicated, existing in two or more places simultaneously, or that it has been ‘relocated’ to another site. 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

    Now tell me these aren’t more “Crazy” then the list provided. Now, I am not saying the listed mental disorders are not “crazy” , they definitely are, but the ones I listed are much more rare and to me, WAY more intriguing. In fact, I couldn’t really find a satisfactory documentary on any of these, and I’m all about documentaries.
    If anyone is aware of some awesome documentary on ANY of these mental disorders please let me know!
    To me, these are way more interesting, and rare which is why I think the provided list is kind of boring. Although Dissociative Identity Disorder is probably the most interesting on this list, I would much more enjoy a list of the ones I listed and see some videos of actual patients.
    So as I said, if anyone knows of some videos on any of these, please let me know! I’d love to learn more about these rare diseases.

  3. L (Just using an initial) on

    I have been diagnosed with a few of these things, of them being Antisocial Personality Disorder, BiPolar, OCD, Schizophrenia, I got rid of my Trichotillomania, and I have a phobia of myself that is literally ruining my life. I feel bad for the people who have mental illnesses, because it sucks.

  4. I have a question about antisocial personality disorder if anyone has any accurate information or comments I would appreciate your input as I know nothing about it other than the symptoms.
    I would like to know if a person can be like 25% apd ? Does that make sense? In other words they may not have it as bad as what a serial killer would have it but a lesser level of it so that one person might feel a bit more real emotion than another with apd. And is this an inherited trait or disorder or is it a learned one or a defense mechanism or what? What do u do for people that have just a touch of it if thats even a possibility? Thank u all for any information on the subject. I truly need to know the correct answers. Respectfully, Jewelz