Neurological Disorders

People With Fregoli Delusion Think Everyone They Meet Is The Same Person In Disguise

When you have a crush on someone, it feels like you see them wherever you go. But, what if you literally did see them...everywhere? If you had Fregoli delusion, you might think that everyone you met is really just your crush in disguise. Middle school could've been that much worse.

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Now You See Me

The Fregoli delusion was first documented in 1927 when a patient believed that an actress named Robine was disguising herself as different people throughout the patient's life. The syndrome was named after renowned 19th- and 20th-century Italian actor Leopoldo Fregoli, who was known for being able to impersonate every character in a scene.

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A 2014 review of the literature found that the psychological elements that define Fregoli delusion itself are somewhat murky. But like many psychiatric disorders, the fact that it happens at all can tell us important things about the brain. Psychologist Stéphane Thibierge from the Université Paris-Diderot writes that Fregoli delusion shows that the processes of identification and recognition are two different things: patients with the delusion can identify that people have different appearances, but they're unable to recognize that the people also have different identities.

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A Rare Delusion

The Fregoli delusion is included in a category of conditions known as "delusional misidentification syndromes," and it's closely related to the better-known Capgras syndrome, or the irrational belief that loved ones or places have been replaced by impostors. How common is this type of delusion? Pretty rare. The Telegraph reveals that there are only about 40 reported cases in the world, which comprise 0.2 percent of psychiatric patients and 0.5 percent of people with dementia.

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Written by Curiosity Staff May 3, 2017

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