Folie à Deux (shared madness): the strangest cases
The Folie à Deux or shared psychotic disorder It is one of those phenomena that have a difficult explanation. How can it be that two people come to share a psychotic outbreak? There are not many reported cases of this pathology, but its presence continues to miss psychologists and psychiatrists worldwide.
The rarity of the Folie à Deux has inspired different novels and films. He has been taken to the cinema with the movie Heavenly Creatures, in which two young girls suffered the shared delirium that they needed to kill the mother of one of them to stay together, and in the movie Intruders. Also, in one of the chapters of the famous series File X, an individual causes everyone to think that their boss is a monster.
What is the Folie à Deux?
When we talk about what reality is, we tend to understand it as the objective truth that always remains there, even if no one pays attention to it or reflects on it. Reality is, therefore, the objective, which does not depend on points of view. Thus, it is easy for a person to develop a distorted vision of reality, but it is understood that the dialogue between different people allows us to approach a more realistic view of things. But ... what happens when two or more people perceive reality in a totally illusory way? This is what happens in the Folie à Deux .
This disorder occurs when two or more people share psychiatric symptoms, usually delusions . Although in the ICD-10 and in the DSM-IV-TR the Folie à Deux is considered a type of psychotic disorder, in the DSM V it is relocated and there is no specific distinction for this psychopathology.
'Folie à Deux' means madness of two
The name Folie à Deux, which literally means madness of two, has a French origin because it was used for the first time to describe the case of the marriage of Margaret and Michael. This couple experienced this shared psychotic disorder. The psychiatrists did not know which of the two began the cycle of psychosis, but both were immersed in a feedback loop that reinforced the delusions of marriage .
They both thought that their house was in the crosshairs of different people at random. These people never stole or attempted to destroy their home, but scattered dust or bits of fluff around the house, or walked with the couple's shoes until they were wearing their soles.
Who can suffer Folie à Deux?
Generally, people suffering from Folie à Deux tend to have a close relationship and a significant level of social isolation. Because can occur between members of a marriage, between siblings or between parents and children .
The case of the sisters Úrsula and Sabina Eriksson
A case that became very famous happened in 2008, when Ursula and Sabina Eriksson, two twin sisters who were being detained for attempting to commit suicide by crossing the highway. After reprimanding the agents and paramedics and accusing them of wanting to steal their organs and that they were not real, c They continued to cross the highway and be impacted by two vehicles .
Ursula was seriously injured after being hit by a truck, while Sabrina, after being hit by a car, recovered a few days later. After spending a night in the dungeon for trying to assault the agents, I continue with his delusions. The same day he went out to the street he killed a man and tried again to commit suicide. She was sentenced to five years in prison. The event was recorded by the cameras of the police. We warn you that the images are hard.
Folie a Trois: another strange case of shared psychotic disorder
Another case that became famous is that of three American sisters who starred in a case of Folie à Trois. None of them had been abused or had a medical history characterized by mental disorders. The disorder emerged suddenly when the three sisters strengthened their ties, since the older sister needed help to take care of her children. The other two sisters moved to a nearby house, so they spent a lot of time together.
With time, the three sisters had strong religious beliefs and the little one began to question how there could be different interpretations of the bible. In her shared delirium, she was chosen to bring order to this situation. After three days of praying, without sleep, the sisters believed that they should start their work in a house that was not theirs. They went to that house and asked the owners to kindly let them in. When they were rejected, they tried to enter the house. So the police made an appearance, which caused the three sisters to attack the agents .
Causes of Shared Psychotic Disorder
Although the origin of this disorder is not clear, a characteristic feature usually appears in these cases, in addition to the close relationship, is the social isolation of both members. Further, a stressful situation can trigger psychotic symptoms .
Experts think that among the actors of this psychopathology there is a dominant person who is the first to suffer the disorder, and a dependent person who is considered a person induced to the disorder.
Possible treatments for this disorder
The objective of the treatment is separate the induced person and try to stabilize the dominant person . Therefore, there may be a different treatment for both affected.
Such treatment requires psychotherapy to help the patient to recognize that he has the pathology. As well as to deal with the emotional and relational problems that are present in the disorder. Drug treatment is also necessary to act directly on psychotic symptoms. Therefore, it is necessary to administer antipsychotics to stabilize the patient with delusions.