Graveyard Shift

15 Bizarre Psychological Cases From History That Left Scientists Speechless  

Lea Rose Emery
1.4M views 15 items

There are some cases that doctors just can't get to the bottom of, including strange psychological conditions that have stumped psychiatrists and psychologists for many years. From puzzling mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, to the most bizarre demises, doctors have faced cases so confounding that all they can do is throw their hands up.  

The truth is, much is still unknown about medicine and the human body. There are so many complications when it comes to the brain alone. This list explores the strangest cases that patients have brought to psychiatrists and psychologists. It's not just regular people, either - even celebrities suffer from bipolar disorder and various mental conditions. Read on to discover cases that are serious head scratchers. 

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The Man Who Got Selective Emotional Detachment From Brain Surgery
The Man Who Got Selective Emot... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 15 Bizarre Psychological Cases From History That Left Scientists Speechless
Photo: Luigi Novi/via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 3.0

Dr. Oliver Sacks, a neurologist and prolific author, recorded a number of his strangest and most interesting cases involving inexplicably derived mental conditions. One of these involved a man who - before brain surgery to help with his epilepsy - was a loving husband and father who hated the hospital. After brain surgery, however, he became extremely cold to and removed from his family and began to love his doctors, the hospital, and strangers.

After the operation, the man also became filled with delusions about his wife, believing she was withholding information about his true condition from him. In one really cold exchange, he told his wife to "be quiet" because he was "watching the news" when she told him she had been in a car accident.

Although they could never come to a fully satisfying explanation, Sacks and his team described the man's post-surgery emotional behavior as a "selective loss of responsiveness to a categorical group, the patient's family."

Stephen, Who Just Wants To Be Eaten
Stephen, Who Just Wants To Be ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 15 Bizarre Psychological Cases From History That Left Scientists Speechless
Photo: Milwaukee Police Department/Fair Use

Stephen wasn't the first patient to show an interest in cannibalism or vorarephilia - a condition characterized by erotic consumption - but what doctors weren't prepared for was that he desired to be eaten. Most people, like Jeffrey Dahmer, prefer to be doing the eating. But Stephen wanted to be eaten by "a large, dominant woman and then defecated by her.”

Defecation was a large part of the draw for Stephen, and doctors were stumped. They eventually decided that it had something to do with never wanting to be alone. However, Stephen's big worry was that he might be gay. 

Victor Of Aveyron, Who Could Only Be Tamed So Much
Victor of Aveyron is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 15 Bizarre Psychological Cases From History That Left Scientists Speechless
Photo: Petr Losert/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Victor, the "Wild Boy of Aveyron" was found in the French Aveyron forest in 1800. At around 11 or 12-years-old, this feral child was a gold mine to psychologists and philosophers who hoped to find out how the lack of human interaction in his early years would shape him. But things didn't go as planned.

Though he eventually learned toilet habits, he never learned to speak fluently as the doctors thought he would. They were unable to help him learn very much, though later autism expert Uta Frith thought that maybe the boy had been autistic. 

The Real-Life Daenerys Targaryen
The Real-Life Daenerys Targary... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 15 Bizarre Psychological Cases From History That Left Scientists Speechless
Photo:  pop culture geek/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

As far as confusing medical conditions go, this one is particularly notable. A 2014 report in The Lancet described a patient who had some confounding symptoms, all based around dragons. The report explains: "In July 2011, a 52-year-old woman presented to our psychiatric outpatient clinic with a life-long history of seeing people's faces change into dragon-like faces and hallucinating similar faces many times a day.

The dragons sounded pretty fierce. According to the patient, people's faces turned "black, grew long, pointy ears and a protruding snout, and displayed a reptiloid skin and huge eyes in bright yellow, green, blue, or red." These dragon-like faces would also pop out of nowhere in her field of vision and move toward her. Yet after multiple MRIs and EEGs, the neurologists couldn't find a real cause behind why she was seeing these things.