A French man who saw a ‘stranger’ in his bathroom mirror – that turned out to be his own reflection – was diagnosed with a neurological condition, according to a new report case.
In the case report – published August 25 in the journal Neuroscience – it was stated that the 78-year old man, called Mr. B in the report, saw a stranger in his home (specifically his bathroom mirror) who looked exactly like him.
“The stranger was a double of himself. Mr. B. talked with this stranger and was puzzled because he knew much about him. [He] even brought food to the mirror with cutlery for two persons,” the researchers wrote in the case report.
Dr. Capucine Diard-Detoeuf, a neurologist at the University Hospital of Tours in France, who treated the 78-year-old man, said that when Mr. B told his daughter that the man in the mirror had become aggressive, she decided to take her father to the hospital.
The French man was diagnosed with atypical Capgras syndrome. People who have regular Capgras syndrome are under the impression that family members or friends have been replaced with another identical person, an impostor.
Mr. B was prescribed antipsychotic medication and anti-anxiety medication, Dr. Diard-Detoeuf said.
The man recovered after following the treatment for three months. The ‘stranger’ in his bathroom mirror had disappeared.
Two other cases of atypical Capgras syndrome have been reported so far: a 61-year-old woman in New Zealand, and another 77-year-old-woman.
Psychiatrists and neurologists at the University Hospital of Tours – the authors of the report case – speculated that atypical Capgras syndrome may occur because of impairments in two brain pathways.
Patients with regular Capgras syndrome are able to identify familiar faces (of family, friends, etc.), but tests of their skin conductance – which are used to see the physiological reaction of the body to a stimulus – showed that they had no emotional reaction to them, according to Dr. Diard-Detoeuf.
Patients like Mr. B – who do not recognise themselves – may have problems with both the covert and overt brain pathways, the researchers said.
Dr. Paul Wright, the chairman of neurology at North Shore University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New York, stated that it is quite fascinating how the person recognised himself as a stranger.
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