Being human is a fickle thing, and just by the nature of being “us,” we are at the mercy of whatever crap nature wants to throw our way. Some people are lucky and go through life relatively healthy. But others get a bum deal and can’t catch a break. And a small number of people get the worst possible deal and are afflicted with disorders so rare, a lot of us have never heard of them. This includes:
1. Hypergraphia: The compulsion to write.
We’re not talking about people who just love to write and do it all the time. No, we’re talking about a debilitating uncontrollable urge to write. While the causes of hypergraphia are still somewhat a mystery, researchers do know that it’s a symptom of temporal lobe epilepsy, among other things. This is caused by excessive neuronal activity. Roughly 10% of patients with this form of epilepsy exhibit signs of having this writing disorder.
If you’re an aspiring novelist, you’re probably think, “Hey! This is great, I wish I had this so I could have an excuse to write all the time.” Not so fast. Just because one has hypergraphia doesn’t mean they will write bestselling novels. A lot of people with hypergraphia write gibberish or random words.
Also, some drugs have been known to induce hypergraphia, as well as the neurotransmitter dopamine.
So hypographia is very real. Sitting in your mom’s basement writing “Glee” fan fiction during all hours of the night probably won’t be enough to persuade your online friends that your awful writing is a disease.
2. Kleine-Levin Syndrome (aka Sleeping Beauty Syndrome)
Sorry college students, but always falling asleep in your medieval pottery studies class doesn’t mean you have this rare disease. In fact, it’s so rare that only one in a million have it.
Luckily for the patients who do suffer from sleeping beauty syndrome, they’ll suffer about 20 episodes over the course of a decade. Each episode lasts less than a month, and the person will sleep up to 21 hours per day.
There is no known cure for Kleine-Levin syndrome. In fact, we don’t know a whole lot about it because it is so rare and not many studies have been done.
3. Fatal Familia Insomnia
If Kleine-Levin syndrome is the inability to stay awake, then Fatal Familia Insomnia is exactly the opposite. It’s such an extreme form of insomnia that it results in death. It’s a genetic disease and is so rare only 25 families in the world are believed to be carrying the gene that causes this disease.
Even scarier is that sleeping pills and other medications don’t work, and can even make the condition worse. From time of diagnosis until death is roughly 7-18 months. Experts have divided FFI into 4 stages:
- The person has increasing insomnia, resulting in panic attacks, paranoia, and phobias. This stage lasts for about four months.
- Hallucinations and panic attacks become noticeable, continuing for about five months.
- Complete inability to sleep is followed by rapid loss of weight. This lasts for about three months.
- Dementia, during which the patient becomes unresponsive or mute over the course of six months. This is the final progression of the disease, after which death follows. Source
Don’t worry, though. Because this disorder is so rare that those occasional sleepless nights you suffer in your parent’s basement are totally normal. They’re probably caused by you wondering why you’re in your 30s and have never had a girlfriend.
4. Stendhal Syndrome
This is a really weird one. Stendhal syndrome is when a person suddenly suffers from confusion, dizziness, racing heart and even fainting when looking at beautiful works of art. There is no scientific explanation for Stendhal syndrome and it doesn’t really fit in any known psychiatric disorder.
There’s not a whole lot of research on this because of it’s rarity. But it does tend to strike more when a person is looking at Florentine art, as opposed to drooling over your collection of Archie comic books.
5. Uner Tan Syndrome
If you have this one, then you probably wouldn’t be reading this post. Uner Tan syndrome is when adults walk around on all fours and make grunting or other primitive noises. It’s also accompanied by severe mental disabilities.
Only two families that live in Turkey are said to have this disorder. In at least two males, it’s so bad that there are claims these individuals have no concept of time, lack any type of language skills with no real conscious experience (as we know it).
Uner Tan syndrome isn’t without criticism. Some claim it’s an example “backward evolution” where people have regressed to their very primitive roots. Others claims this is just a severe mental disorder that’s combined with an inability to walk on two feet.
6. Cotard’s Syndrome (aka Walking Corpse Syndrome)
Cotard’s Syndrome is a mental disorder where the person really thinks they are dead, doesn’t exist or has had all of their organs removed. The person can also deny the existence of a specific body part as well.
It’s interesting to note that this disorder is not related to schizophrenia and that the presence of hallucinations is not required for a diagnosis of Cotard’s Syndrome. However, more common symptoms include: psychotic depression, hypochondria and delusions.
7. Wendigo Psychosis
Of all the disorders in this list, Wendigo psychosis is probably the creepiest. A person with this disorder will have a strong, deep craving for human flesh and become fearful that they are (or will become) a cannibal. It is said the person will crave human flesh regardless of how much food is readily available. It’s like if you really crave a steak, and you’re surrounded by fruits, vegetables, sweets and other food, you still are really craving a steak.
This disease appears to be isolated to northern native tribes in America and Canada and has seemed to die out. Some experts are skeptical about whether or not this is a real disorder.Follow @bradsreader