November is the perfect month for writing and being creative, whether along with the gazillion people doing NaNoWriMo, or just because the weather has begun to suck so badly there’s just no other viable thing to do but curl up with a good book (preferably your own manuscript) and travel to another world.
This year I’m not doing NaNo because I’m up to my nostrils in my own revision. But I can’t deny the fact that since the month and the hype have started, I’ve kept a closer eye on my wordcount than usual. I’m proud to announce that I’m in a safe position there with 24,200 words in 12 days, although I might remind you it’s a rewrite not a first draft, so I know exactly where I’m going. And I’ll keep spitting out bricks to fortify my fictional world to my best capabilities for the rest of the month. Let’s see how far I’ll get. I started my revision with the ambition to be done by the end of November, but reality kicked me in the groin and left me squirming on the ground in a puddle of my own tears. In other words, my first draft sucked. Therefore I’m not racing to finish 50K this month, but to rework 110K as well and as soon as possible. I just hope I’ll get to THE END again before Christmas and the associated truckload of loud relatives throw a spanner in my work.
Due to this rewrite, I must apologize if I can’t keep up my blogging schedule quite as stable as before. I might only post once a week or even less for the rest of the year. However, I won’t “take a break”, because blogging is as much writing practice as anything else, even if only as a welcome change in tone and topic. I can’t just go away from blogging, I enjoy it too much. And I love getting feedback and awesome ideas from you guys! You really know how to get engaged in topics, pose thoughtful questions and make intelligent points. I’d miss you too damn much.
For today’s post, I’m going to share a few interesting things that I’ve come across in my research. Maybe I’ll do this more often, since I always do some kind of research or another, and the things I stumble upon are really cool. Hopefully you might use some of the findings in your own fiction, and if not, at least it’ll be an interesting read. Here goes, fellow scribblers.
Top 10 Most Bizzare Mental Disorders
The sexual compulsion (called a paraphilia) in which the affected person derives pleasure out of making unsolicited and anonymous phone calls with sexually explicit and highly offensive content. Just to clarify, this is not phone sex, where both parties are willingly engaged in the “conversation”, and neither is it targeted harassment, where the harasser’s purpose is to intimidate or coerce. Telephonicophilia is random, not personal, it’s typically harmless other than the moral discomfort of being exposed to dirty language, and is a rather rare condition. So don’t worry, if you get strange calls where all you hear is hard breathing, it’s most likely not a telephonicophile, but an astmathic grandpa who forgot who he was calling. Just tell the man to go take his prostate meds and take a nap, and you should be fine.
9. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
Most often experienced by potheads and people with brain tumors, the Alice in Wonderland syndrome, or liliputian hallucinatory syndrome, is a disorienting condition in which the affected person is convinced the world around him has shrunk to miniature proportions (micropsia), or that he has shrunk and every object around him is huge by comparison (macropsia). I suppose it’s quite a trip to see bacon strips the size of highways spreading out before you, but I can understand how a fly the size of a helicopter or a glass of water spilling a tsunami wave toward your face can be rather disturbing.
8. Reduplicative Paramnesia
This is a delusional belief where the person affected is convinced that his current location has been meticulously duplicated, and he has been transported to the duplicate and is being held there against his will. Since it mostly affects people who have suffered some kind of brain trauma, the delusion typically takes the shape of the belief that the hospital in which the patient is held for observation is a replica of the real place, and is situated in some exotic location like his own bathroom at home, or behind a bush in a park on the other side of town. Maybe even someone’s closet. Ask C.S.Lewis about it, he found a great deal more than a hospital room in his closet.
7. Depersonalization Disorder
The constant or recurrent sensation that the world and everything in it aren’t real, and the person affected is experiencing everything as if through a powerful filter, or as if locked in a virtual reality. Nothing feels real, nothing smells real or tastes real, everything sounds far away and people look like poorly rendered simulations of themselves. Daily life becomes a waking dream or a computer game, and even one’s own body becomes an avatar. While occasional episodes of depersonalization are completely normal and eventually experienced by every person, mostly due to brain fatigue and lack of sleep, chronic depersonalization that is not adequately treated can have devastating effects, and even lead to suicide. Or to writing scripts like The Matrix.
6. Alien Hand and Anarchic Hand Syndrome
Caused by quirks of the human hardware (brain and nervous system), these two awesomely named syndromes have a similar manifestation: a limb that seems to have a life of its own, and that the person affected does not recognize to be his own.
People suffering from Alien Hand Syndrome have a sensation similar to us normal folks when someone else is moving our hand and flexing our fingers. Because the regions in their brain that coordinate, analyze and predict movement do not cooperate how they should, it feels as though there is a discrepancy between the command to move that hand, the actual movement, and the tactile sensations resulting from that movement.
Anarchic Hand Syndrome is a whole level further up, where the command to move the limb is not given consciously. So if you suffered from Anarhic Hand Syndrome, your hand might move without your consent, triggered by subconscious impulses and your fleeting attention as it scans the world around you. Rather frustrating, but nothing like those horror movies where your hand might kill without you knowing it. Although you might want to tie that hand down if you really hate your office colleagues and might think of throwing things at them when they speak.
5. Koro, or Genital Retraction Syndrome
And here we enter the world of freakish delusions. Koro is almost exclusively a syndrome affecting people of Asian ethnicity, but a variant of it was also encountered in Afrika. It’s a condition in which the person affected has the overpowering conviction that his penis is slowly and irreversibly retracting into his body and will eventually kill him.
Koro can even tip over into mass hysteria, where a large number of people in an area suffer from the same delusion simultaneously. It has happened in Thailand, China and Singapore, and has even affected women who came to believe their nipples were growing inwards and their breasts were retracting into their rib cages, where they would crush their internal organs. Being characterized by severe anxiety, nausea and panic associated ailments, this syndrome isn’t as funny as it sounds. I for one can barely imagine the horrors such a delusion causes those poor people. But it might explain why Justin Bieber always sings like he’s in pain.
4. Jumping Frenchman From Maine
This neurological dysfunction is as strange as its name, and was first recognized by a neurologist investigating a lumberjack who had rather awkward reactions to sudden powerful stimuli. The Jumping Frenchman causes the person affected to have exaggerated startle reflexes and enter a state of high neurological susceptibility as a result. They would scream or flail their arms, throw or punch things (not as a self-protecting reflex, but randomly), and even spin around themselves or run in circles when they’ve been startled. But even more than that, some people affected with this condition do everything you tell them to when they’re in this state. Others start talking gibberish and compulsively repeat words, and can’t shut up until they’ve calmed down again. You know, just like in Jersey Shore.
3. The Capgras Delusion
Similar to the movie Changeling with Angelina Jolie, the Capgras Delusion has the person affected convinced that a loved one or a close family member has been abducted and replaced by an identically looking impostor—a Doppelgänger—who is deliberately lying and impersonating them. A really creepy feeling, if you ask me, and the stronger the delusion, the more horrible and anxiety-inducing it becomes, until the person might even resort to extreme actions to expose the impostor, and even try to kill him. It does makes for an awesome idea in fiction, and it accepts quite a variety of interesting spins, but the Capgras Delusion is nothing compared to–
2. The Fregoli Delusion
This is a rare disorder named after the Italian actor Leopoldo Fregoli, who was renowned for slipping into many different characters during a stage act. The person suffering from this delusion believes he is persecuted by a single individual who subsequently impersonates several different people who are close to him by changing his appearance. He might thus become convinced that the impostor takes turns being his mother, his brother, his spouse, his boss or golf partner, and that they do so with the intent to convince him of something untrue, or to deliberately create false circumstances and manipulate him. In rare cases, the person might even come to believe the impostor is impersonating everyone he comes in contact with, and is in fact trying to kill him. Sounds a bit like the t1000, doesn’t it?
1. The Cotard Delusion
Also known as The Walking Corpse Syndrome, this is a rare delusion in which people hold the strong conviction they are already deceased, are putrefying and decomposing, or have lost part or all of their internal organs, and rarely even that they are inexistent or incorporeal, and that their physical bodies are illusions or are long buried somewhere else. So when you’re faced with a bunch of weird, depressive looking zombies this December, remember they might be people suffering from a mental disorder and not some freakish undead craving for your brain. Although a hoard of mentally deranged people is somewhat creepier than a bunch of hungry zombies. In any case, it’ll be a good idea to pack some sharp objects under the tree. Particularly for Matty, that boy’s not right, he’s probably been replaced by a shapeshifter.
Reality really is stranger than fiction, huh? Ah, psychiatry and neurology are so damn interesting… Now, now, don’t look at me like that. Just be glad I didn’t post about the parasites I researched. *wink*