-“Doctor…My husband and his mom—they’re both crazy.”

Erica X., a pleasant middle-aged medical technician that I was treating for resilient frontal headaches, made that lapidary statement about her family. She was under stressful conditions at home as her husband and his mother seemed to be in concert to criticize and sabotage all her household decisions, with the inevitable emotional frustration.

Besides the fact that many men, amongst who I include myself, are lifelong “Momma’s boys” that infuriate their life partners with their eclectic behavior, there is a psychiatric condition that affects individuals who are in close proximity. What appears as a wifely exaggeration may be the little cousin of a rare but real disorder.

The “folie à deux”—shared psychosis—is a presently recognized psychiatric syndrome that manifests in delusions and hallucinations that are transmitted from one individual to the other. The DSM-IV identifies it as “shared psychotic disorder” and the ICD-10 calls it “induced delusional disorder.”

It was first identified by Charles Lasègue and Jean-Pierre Falret, two 19th century French psychiatrists, who divided it in two clinical categories:

  • Folie imposée: a dominant individual (the inducer or the principal) elaborates a delusional belief during a psychotic episode and then imposes it on another one ( the acceptor or the associate).
  • Folie simultanée: two individuals that have independent psychotic states influence the content of their respective delusions and their co-morbidity can trigger symptoms in each other.

These individuals perpetrated some of the greatest crimes and swindles in modern history.The typical case might have been the criminal duo of “Bonnie and Clyde” (the inducer and the acceptor).When both patients suffering from a “folie imposée” are separated, usually the delusions in “the acceptor” resolve without recurring to any medication.

I asked Erica X. if treating her mother-in-law would free her husband’s mind.

-“Well…How about treating both? Can’t afford to take any chances—”

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.





21 thoughts on “La folie à deux

    1. Good afternoon and thanks for your return dear Bojana. I’m glad you liked it but I still wonder: “how come she hasn’t shared any of my articles with her readership yet?” Oh, perhaps she’s ashamed to publicly admit that she likes me…

      1. Lol.
        I’ll share it when it matches my topic. The last one was about my kid. How do you expect me to draw their attention to ‘your’ emotional frustrations?
        Stop being so pushy.
        You can’t expect me do all advertising for you. Jesus May and Joseph.
        P.S. Does it mean you started reading me? No, of course it doesn’t.

      2. Now, please tell me who is being the pushy one here? Sorry, there is a higher purpose that calls me. Nacional, my team, is about to debut in a game against a rookie team backed by the petrodollars of the ruler of the Emirates. Can’t miss it. Sure you can understand.

      3. Thank you my dear Bojana. It was so marvellously considerate of you. Now I have to go: feeding time . Un baccione. A presto!

      4. Good morning dear Bojana. Thank you for the excruciatingly painful and yet amusingly defiant account of your teenage years in Serbia. I must confess that the rest of the world wondered how you Serbians could remain indifferent to the ravages of war in Bosnia but it seems for your account that it took a heavy emotional toll on your daily lives. Un baccione. Arrivederci!

      5. We were nothing but indifferent. War always comes with great pain, for everybody.
        Thanks for reading. BTW, my saga starts with the previous post (The Marriage…)

      6. Sorry to have roughed your feathers dear. I will read and comment that previous post over the weekend. I miss you a lot this past month and I realized I couldn’t live without your always lively and sometimes sarcastic jibes. Why don’t you post a picture of you with those sexy leather boots you never took out? Did you carry a whip too? Un baccione. A posto cara amica!

      7. I’m not that easily upset, Herr Doktor.
        I’ve been busy writing but I’m coming back to get you soon, promise.
        Sexy boots, lol. Jesus. I was a teenage punk rocker, trust me, there was nth remotely sexy about it. Tell me, what does psychiatry say about whips?

      8. Ha-ha-ha. So you’re going back to reading my blogs? Oh Lord! I’ve awakened the fiery dragon-lady! On Monday March the 5th my first blog of the season goes up and of course I DO expect a commentary from you dear. Grosses bises.

      9. Like crazy I missed you! But that’s my woobly “femimine side” (as if we men wouldn’t change our minds all the time) La donnna e mobile!

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