Capgras delusion (a detailed overview)

Capgras delusion

This article is a comprehensive guide on Capgras delusion and provides detailed information as to how it affects people, the causes, symptoms and possible cures. It also aims to shed light on the physiological aspects of this condition in terms of how it affects different people.

Capgras delusion (a detailed overview)

Capgras delusion, also known as imposter syndrome, is a psychological condition in which one believes that an imposter has taken the place of someone they are familiar with. Joseph Capgras and Reboul-Lachaux first identified this syndrome in 1923. This syndrome, although rare, has puzzled phycologists for many years. 

What is Capgras delusion? 

Capgras delusion is a psychiatric disorder that affects the memory and perception of an individual. People with this disorder are more likely to link imposters to close relatives. In many cases, they may not recognize these individuals as their relatives or friends. 

Many people who are affected by this syndrome have the belief that the ‘imposter’ is known only to them. This makes it difficult for others to convince them otherwise. In some instances, they may even believe that multiple people are replaced by imposters who are collaborating against them. 

You may be thinking that this order is quite rare as you’ve probably never met anyone like this. However, it may be more common than many people believe. Individuals with Capgras delusion commonly tend to keep their beliefs to themselves, which makes it difficult for psychologists to diagnose this disease in the early stages. That’s why you’ve probably seen a few people who are affected by this syndrome.  

While such patients usually associate imposters with people who they are familiar with, they may also do this with objects and animals as well. Many people may believe that their house has been replaced with another one. Others may tend to think that their pets have been returned. In these cases, they believe that the imposter has caused harm to their original belongings.  

Different Types of Capgras Delusion

Capgras delusion can be identified in four stages: 

  • The patient may believe that their close relative has been replaced with an imposter. This stage is often the most advanced as the patient may associate negative feelings with the supposed relative. In such cases, it is better to keep the two away from each other as a precaution. 
  • Another stage of Capgras delusion is that individuals may cease to remember their close relatives. This is commonly linked to memory loss, although the two conditions are entirely different. People with Capgras delusion actually may have fine memories. Their ‘memory loss’ is associated with selected individuals and usually only one person. 
  • Another type of Capgras delusion is when a person believes that people can interchange with each other. This means that you may be able to transfer your physiological self into another person’s body. This is usually a general belief of the affected patient and does not have to be limited to certain people. 
  • Lastly, patients with Capgras delusion may believe that some have been replaced externally. However, their internal self is still the same. This means that they identify a relative with a different personality. 

Potential Causes of Capgras Delusion

You may find it difficult to know whether an individual has Capgras syndrome. People with this syndrome usually have certain other psychological disorders that are likely to cause this disorder to surface. Otherwise, many normal people may be affected by certain levels of the disorder. However, these episodes are temporary and may only last for a certain period. Once the person sees a sign that their relative is not an imposter, they usually go back to a normal life. 

However, psychologists can diagnose a person with Capgras delusion based on analysis of their beliefs about certain individuals. For example, some people may not openly admit that they are dissociating someone else with their relatives. However, psychologists may see certain indications, through tier response towards different questions. 

You need not worry, however. A seemingly normal person will rarely have Capgras syndrome in its pure form. Other mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, are often a cause of Capgras delusion.

In addition to physiological causes, there are many physical causes of Capgras syndrome. People with brain injuries way develop this syndrome as a result of memory loss in a certain part of the brain. Other physical causes could include Alzheimer’s disease, as well as certain thyroid disorders.  

Excess stress or anxiety can also lead to Capgras delusion. As with many other psychiatric diseases, stress can cause the brain to malfunction, which causes the individual to perceive their surroundings in an illogical way. That’s why it is essential to have a proper stress management routine and relax your mind with enough sleep at night. 

Symptoms of Capgras Delusion

Unlike other mental conditions, Capgras delusions have particular symptoms that can be recognized in patients. If you note any of these symptoms in a close relative, it would be advisable to have them meet a psychologist for proper diagnosis. Symptoms of Capgras delusions include:

  • The person states their belief that someone they know has been replaced with an imposter
  • The person starts to act suspicious of their close relative. 
  • The individual affected by this syndrome may not call their relatives by their names anymore. Rather, they will adopt a quite attitude towards certain close individuals. 

While these symptoms may be due to feelings of anger, you should take them to visit a psychologist if they persist for a prolonged period. 

These symptoms may gradually appear over time. You may not notice that a person has Capgras delusion until many months have passed. There is evidence that suggests that this is a progressive mental disorder. This means that you may notice mild symptoms initially. However, if it is left to progress, it may reach a stage where the person will not identify with many of their close friends and relatives. 

Capgras delusion (a detailed overview)

Potential Treatment Options

Capgras delusion is a mental disorder that may have physical causes as well. If it is diagnosed with another condition, the treatment will often be towards reducing the cause of the symptoms. If you have a relative with Capgras symptoms as well as Alzheimer’s disease, then their physician will provide treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. 

By reducing the symptoms of the condition that caused Capgras delusion, you’ll be able to reduce the effects of Capgras delusion in the individual. 

Treatment can be divided into two types: 

Physiological Treatments:

This involves medicine as well as brain exercises to help the patient develop a stronger mental capacity. Capgras delusions usually occur as a result of the right brain malfunctioning. Therefore, physicians may recommend certain memory strengthening exercises. 

In addition to this, certain medicines have been developed to help reduce the stress that the patient may feel due to the inability to recognize their close relatives. However, these medications are only administered in extreme cases. Never take any medication without consulting a psychologist first to see whether there is any physiological cure for the illness. 

Psychological Treatments:

The first form of physiological treatment is to take measures to reduce the patient’s fears. For example, if they are likely to be anxious around the supposed imposter, then it would be better to keep them away until the anxiety wears off. 

This is extremely important if the individual shows signs of paranoia and distrust. Paranoid individuals are more likely to be affected with Capgras delusions as they generally believe that people are against them. Physiological therapy can help identify the underlying cause of their fears and treat them accordingly.  

Capgras patients can also be treated through reality orientation. This involves the process of allowing the patient to connect the dots in terms of remembering a specific person. For example, if a person has forgotten their mother, then they can be reminded of certain incidents which only that person knows about. This will help clear their doubts that the affected person is an imposter. 

This technique is very useful in patients with Capgras delusion as it addresses the main cause of their fears. Once they can clear this fear out of their minds, they generally recover quickly afterwards. That’s why you should always consider keeping a level of trust with someone who is affected with Capgras delusion that they may confide their fears with you. 

Another proven technique involves therapy known as validation therapy. In this case, the psychologist affirms the delusions of the patient even though it might not be accurate. As a result, the patient’s anxiety is reduced, and they can think more clearly.  

It is important to note that these techniques should be carried out by psychologists who assess the individual patients and develop a suitable healing strategy. 

Capgras delusion (a detailed overview)

Some helpful resources

  1. Some patients may understand their condition after seeing another version of it. This play will shed light on their condition and help remove any misunderstandings regarding Capgras delusion. “The Capgras Delusion”.
  1. There’s a protocol for healing and the “Reversing Capgras Delusion: Overcoming Cravings The Raw Vegan Plant-Based Detoxification & Regeneration Workbook for Healing Patients”, the workbook will assist with this process.
  1. II – Capgras Delusion: Brain Collapse is an album that targets people with mental disorders and helps them get some peace of mind. 
  1. Another excellent album for patients: The Capgras Delusion: Right Hand Left Hand

Conclusion 

Capgras delusion might seem like an untreatable mental disorder or common memory loss. However, it is often the result of complex psychological problems that a person might face. You should always treat such patients with kindness and provide them with a peaceful atmosphere. 

It is also important to remember that such individuals may believe that someone is an imposter. As such, one should never take their statements to heart as it is merely a physiological disorder. 

FAQs

How common is Capgras syndrome?

Capgras delusion is a rare occurrence. Because it is so rare, many phycologists have ignored its existence in the past. However, it does exist and can affect anyone.

Is Capgras Syndrome Real?

Yes, Capgras syndrome is real and may be present in many individuals. The reason why you may not know about this disease is that many people go undiagnosed. It is also commonly mistaken for other disorders. 

Can Capgras syndrome be cured?

With proper treatment and counselling, Capgras delusion can be cured. This is a delicate process and should be handled by a qualified phycologist. 

What causes Capgras delusion?

Capgras delusion may be caused by a lack of sleep, stress or another mental illness. People who lead unhealthy lifestyles are more susceptible to the disease. 

What are the symptoms of Capgras syndrome?

The symptoms of Capgras syndrome include the inability to recognize close relatives and friends and a belief that imposters have replaced them.

What is crabgrass syndrome?

This is a medical condition in which a person believes that some stranger has replaced a close relative. These patients hold this belief firmly.

References

  1. An Overview of Capgras Delusion
  2. Treatments for Capgras delusion
  3. What is Capgras Syndrome
  4. Capgras syndrome and its relationship to neurodegenerative disease
  5. That’s Not My Child: A Case of Capgras Syndrome

Capgras delusion (a detailed overview)

Juanita Agboola

Juanita Agboola is the editor in chief of HFNE and an expert in mental health online. She has been writing about online behaviour, mental health and psychology issues since 2012. All Guides are reviewed by our editorial team which constitutes various clinical psychologists, PhD and PsyD colleagues.

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