The Quick 10: 10 Bizarre Medical Conditions
I have no sense of smell, and I think I might have Restless Leg Syndrome. As weird as those things may be, they doesn't even hold a candle to these other afflictions. Do you know anyone who suffers from any of them? Know of one that's stranger than these? Let us know in the comments!
1. Exploding Head Syndrome. We've covered EHS on the floss before. It happens a couple of hours after the person falls asleep and wake up because of an extremely loud explosion noise coming from inside their own heads. It is not the result of a dream, however. Some physicians think it's a sign of stress and fatigue.
2. Dancing Mania. It sounds like one of those old dance shows from the "˜50s, like American Bandstandor the Corny Collins Show (yes, I know that wasn't a real show). But Dancing Mania is a real condition that killed thousands of people between the 14th and 18th centuries. People twitched and "danced" and spasmed even when they were too tired to stand; those afflicted were thought to be possessed by the devil and violent exorcisms were held to try to free them. We're still not sure what caused Dancing Mania, although there are several theories out there. One includes eating rye bread which has been infected by a fungus that contains some of the same substances that LSD contains, so it's possible that people with Dancing Mania were just on a really bad (or good?) trip.
3. Laughter Epidemic. In 1962, an outbreak of mass hysteria, now called the Tanganyika laughter epidemic, swept the village of Kashasha in Tanzania. According to American Scientist, a group of schoolgirls started laughing over some silly joke and infected everyone around them. It was so bad that schools had to close for six months. People were laughing even when they didn't want to and even started fainting and breaking out in rashes. But it died down almost as quickly as it started, and there have been no reports of anything even close to the same scale since.
4. Genital Retraction Syndrome. People who have this think that their genitals are shrinking or even actually retracting back into their bodies.
To be clear, that's not happening at all "“ they just think it's happening. And women sometimes experience it too, thinking that their nipples are shrinking. It's not uncommon for one case to turn into many, many cases thanks to paranoid men "“ these outbreaks are called Penis Panics. I know it sounds like I'm making this up, but I'm not!
5. Stendhal Syndrome, AKA Art Attack. If you're ever looking at a gorgeous piece of artwork and feel your pulse quicken, get confused or experience dizziness, you may have Stendhal Syndrome. Sometimes this is even accompanied by hallucinations. This seems to happen in Florence, Italy, all of the time; the syndrome is named after an author who experienced it there in 1817. Since then, lots of people have reported similar symptoms in Florence, especially at the Uffizi gallery.
6. Foreign Accent Syndrome. I think this one is absolutely fascinating. It happens when people experience some sort of a brain injury "“ cases have been reported after strokes in particular. After the trauma, the person speaks with a foreign accent, often from a country they have never even been to. You have to check out this video "“ it's so interesting.
7. Paris Syndrome seems to be experienced almost exclusively by Japanese tourists visiting the famous city in France. It seems to happen when the city isn't what they thought it was or when people are rude to them, making them suffer a psychiatric breakdown. It afflicts about 12 people every year and the Japanese embassy has set up a 24-hour hotline to help tourists in Paris find medical treatment when it happens.
8. Somatoparaphrenia. You might be familiar with this if you're a Grey's Anatomy fan (are there still Grey's fans out there? I gave up on it a long time ago). It's when someone thinks that a particular part or section or their body doesn't belong to them. On the show, a patient wanted his foot amputated because it apparently wasn't his.
9. The Cotard Delusion. Do you sometimes get the nagging feeling that you're, well"¦ dead? That your flesh is rotting? That your internal organs aren't there anymore? That's the Cotard Delusion, or Cotard's Syndrome. It's very rare and is thought to be related to Capgras' Syndrome, where people don't recognize faces that they should.
10. Amputee Identity Disorder. This is when people think that they would be happier if they had one or more of their limbs cut off. Sometimes it's a sexual thing, but not always. It's usually very specific: most sufferers are middle-aged, Caucasian men who want their left legs amputated just above the knee.