Mental Health Monday–Capgras Syndrome


Capgras Syndrome is a delusional disorder whereby the sufferer believes that a friend, family member, spouse, or someone else they know has been replaced by an identical-looking imposter. Most commonly associated with Schizophrenia, the disorder has also been seen in brain injury and dementia. 

It was first labeled in 1923 by French psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Capgras, whose patient believed “doubles” had replaced her husband and others she knew. (Thank you, Wikipedia, for that bit of information.) 🙂

Treatment includes medications such as anti-psychotics (Haldol, Zyprexa, etc).

What books or movies have you seen where a character believes others have been replaced by imposters?

Check out Lydia’s Medical Monday and Sarah’s The Strangest Situation.

Remember, these posts are for writing purposes ONLY and are NOT to be construed as medical advice or treatment.

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19 comments on “Mental Health Monday–Capgras Syndrome

  1. salarsen says:

    Ooh, can you imagine how heartbreaking that would be?

  2. Sarah Fine says:

    It must be so frightening to have that kind of delusion. Thanks for the info, Laura!

  3. Kendall Grey says:

    I’m so paranoid. My overactive imagination produces scenarios like this all the time. I don’t really *believe* anyone’s been replaced, but I wonder what it would be like if it happened. Scary!

  4. Epic… The brain is one epically strange place…
    Every time I read things like this I feel less schizoid and more normal…

  5. Linda Gray says:

    I’ve heard of Capgras syndrome–it’s fascinating and horrifying for the person suffering from it! The disruption to a person’s normal world be overwhelming, and there goes any chance of a normal life. Wow. This is a great one for writers, though. Thanks, Laura! (p.s. I hope the antipsychotics are effective–can’t imagine having to live that way.)

  6. Leigh Moore says:

    Ahh, LOVE!!! It’s like the basis for Invasion of the Body Snatchers, yes? Wow. That is just super inspirational… thinking thinking thinking… 😀

  7. Lynn Rush says:

    Oh sweet. This is awesome. I’ve never heard of this. 🙂 I mean, it’s not sweet for the person to suffer from, of course, but from a writing viewpoint, this could present many interesting situations and conflicts. THANKS!

  8. Karen Lange says:

    I’ve heard of this (although forgot the name); I don’t know if I saw it on a movie or maybe in a book. I can see where, when done right, it would make an interesting plot addition. Thanks for the info!

  9. I love that cartoon!

    I’ve heard of this syndrome. What an awful feeling that would be.

  10. Krispy says:

    Fascinating and so sad for those involved! I immediately thought of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers / the remake The Invasion as a movie that has used this. Also, I think there was an episode of Criminal Minds where the unsub had something similar due to brain damage.

  11. Lydia K says:

    I’m so glad that cartoon got resurrected! Thanks Laura!

  12. Ciara Knight says:

    I had a patient when I worked at the VA who often thought his family were impostors. He’d become so agitated that he had to be restrained at times. it is a terrifying and sad disorder for the family to deal with.

  13. Yikes! What is it called if you have C? I bet there’s no medicine for that.

  14. Donna Hole says:

    Oooh, a conspirasy theorists worst dream. Or vindication. Maybe that’s where they got the idea for Body Snatchers.

    ……..dhole

  15. What’s that called when a person gets replaced by a troll? Or a troll gets replaced by a human?? changeling? I’ve read those kinds of books.

  16. roguemutt says:

    I watched an episode of Star Trek like that recently. The guy thought everyone was acting weird but then it turned out he was really a replicant.

  17. lexcade says:

    This was on an episode of Criminal Minds once. I don’t remember which one, though. This guy was killing people he thought had been replaced, which included his parents. I think he was trying to find his wife and daughter too. It was unreal.

  18. Misha says:

    I’ve never heard of Capgras Syndrome before, but it sounds like something interesting to write about. 🙂

  19. […] to Capgras Syndrome, Cotard Syndrome can occur in Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. It can also be a (rare) side […]

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