Capgras delusion is a psychiatric disorder in which a person believes that a close friend, family member, or even oneself has been replaced by an identical-looking impostor or imposter. This syndrome is named after Joseph Capgras, a French psychiatrist who described it for the first time in 1923.
Individuals suffering from Capgras delusion may recognize the physical appearance of the person in question but believe that a subtle change has occurred, such as a duplicate or impostor replacing the original. This delusion can cause significant distress for both the individual and their family members.
The Capgras delusion is classified as a delusional misidentification syndrome, a type of delusional belief in which people, places, or objects are misidentified. It can manifest itself as acute, transient, or chronic. Patients who believe that time has been “warped” or “substituted” have also been reported.
Although the precise cause of Capgras delusion is unknown, it is frequently associated with neurological and psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, dementia, brain injury, or other mental health disorders. According to some theories, disruptions in the brain’s ability to integrate emotional and cognitive information may play a role in the development of Capgras delusion.
The delusion is most common in people with schizophrenia, but it has also been seen in people with brain injury, dementia with Lewy bodies, and other types of dementia. It frequently manifests in people with neurodegenerative diseases, especially in the elderly. It has also been reported to be associated with diabetes, hypothyroidism, and migraine attacks. In one isolated case, the drug ketamine temporarily induced the Capgras delusion in a healthy subject. It is more common in females, with a female-to-male ratio of about.
Capgras delusion is typically treated by addressing the underlying condition, such as schizophrenia or dementia, with medication and psychotherapy. To manage symptoms, antipsychotic medications are commonly prescribed, and cognitive-behavioral therapy may help individuals cope with and challenge their delusional beliefs.