Never forgive, never forget. You can always confirm who the real truthteller in the pack is- they’re the dead one.
In the classic 1956 film Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the residents of a fictional town in California are beset by the feeling that their friends and family have been replaced by impostors. In the movie, this apparent delusion is not delusional at all: The townspeople are in fact being replaced — by aliens, no less.
Numerous sci-fi films since have capitalized on our fear of being surrounded by duplicates — replicas who look just like our loved ones but are not. And while there have so far been no confirmed cases of a human being replaced by an alien or any other life-form, the feeling that your loved one has been replaced by someone else can be very real.
Consider these two true stories:
A 37-year-old woman came into the office of Carol Berman, a psychiatrist at New York University Medical Center, with a strange complaint. She had returned to her house recently to find a man sitting on her couch. He was familiar, sort of, and he was wearing her husband’s clothes. But something didn’t feel right to this woman. She felt a strange kind of emptiness when she looked at him. She was struck by the very deep sense that her husband had somehow been replaced by this strange man.
Rare Delusional Disorder
Both patients, it turns out, were suffering from a rare delusional disorder, called Capgras. Capgras delusion can be brought about by a variety of conditions — changes in brain chemistry associated with different mental illnesses, or physical trauma to the brain — but the delusion always involves the distinct feeling that the people around you have been replaced by impostors. While they may look and act just like the real person, some essence of the person is missing, almost as though “the soul of the person isn’t in there,” Berman says.
Currently, no one is certain of the underlying cause of Capgras, and there are different ways of explaining what is happening to these people. According to Berman, Capgras might be caused by psychological dissonance. There are usually things about the people close to us that we don’t like. Normally, we combine these things with the parts we do like and develop a general emotional response to the whole person. But in some extreme cases, a change in character or a newly noticed behavior can just be too difficult to accept, to integrate into the whole. And so, rather than reframing our sense of who that person is, our brain just says: “That must not really be him.”
Ramachandran thinks that Capgras can be better explained by a structural problem in the brain. According to Ramachandran, when we see someone we know, a part of our brain called the fusiform gyrus identifies the face: “That looks like mom!” That message is then sent to the amygdala, the part of our brains that activates the emotions we associate with that person. In patients experiencing Capgras, Ramachandran says, the connection between visual recognition and emotional recognition is severed. Thus the patient is left with a convincing face — “That looks like mom!” — but none of the accompanying feelings about his mother.
That’s Not My Mother
Ramachandran holds that we are so dependent on our emotional reactions to the world around us, that the emotional feeling “that’s not my mother” wins out over the visual perception that it is. The compromise worked out by the brain is that your mother was somehow replaced, and this impostor is part of a malevolent scheme.
Ramachandran thinks there’s good evidence for this explanation of Capgras, in part because of an odd quirk in his patient’s behavior. When his mother calls him on the phone and he hears her voice, he instantly recognizes her. Yet if she walks in the room after that call, he is again convinced that she is an impostor.
Why? Ramachandran says that our visual system and auditory system have different connections to the amygdala, so while the auditory recognition triggers an emotional response in his patient, visual recognition does not.
Treating The Illness
Capgras is very rare, and little is known about how to treat it. Those who have been afflicted with Capgras due to physical brain trauma may eventually re-establish the connection between perception and emotion. (Ramachandran’s patient, for example, eventually recovered from his delusion.) And patients who experience Capgras alongside other mental disorders may be helped by medication. But for many Capgras patients, there is no treatment, and no amount of talk or reasoning can cure them.
“I hope he’s recognizing me,” says Berman, “but you never know what you’re going to get when you get back home.”
Produced by Soren Wheeler
…proof Bowe Bergdahl is part of a Returned Defector program: here’s the second Returned Defector, right on schedule
Capgras Delusion is on the rise. Or is it doppelgangers that are on the rise?
THE THING was a documentary? Or just a metaphor for the red-blue control system?
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OKLAHOMA CITY – An Oklahoma congressional candidate has announced he plans to contest Tuesday’s primary election of long time Rep. Frank Lucas.
In a bizarre letter obtained by NewsChannel 4, Tim Murray says he doesn’t feel Rep. Lucas is qualified for office.
“It does come as kind of a shock to read that you’re not you,” said Rep. Lucas, (R) District 3.
Murray brings it up in his letter announcing his plan to contest Lucas’s election writing, “…it is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike.”
NewsChannel 4 called Murray numerous times after he sent the letter. He did not return any of our messages.
However, his campaign website goes into detail about his theory that Lucas was hanged “…executed by the world court on or about jan. 11, 2011…” in Ukraine.
“I’ve never been to Ukraine,”…
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Sikorsky Aircraft got more good news Thursday, when the U.S. Air Force awarded the company a nearly $1.3 billion contract to build four prototype Combat Rescue Helicopters which may be used to replace the aging HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter fleet.
The contract awarded to the Stratford-based subsidy of United Technologies is the first part of a potential $7.9 billion deal to build 112 new helicopters to be used to rescue wounded, injured or stranded service personnel.
The $1.28 billion deal came in at $700 million below the government’s anticipated cost.
The award also comes on the same day as $115 million U.S. Navy contract with Sikorsky for installation work on nine Royal Danish Air Force MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. It also comes within weeks of a $143.4 million contract to modify 13 UH-60M Black Hawks for the U.S. Army and a $1.24 billion deal to modify, test and deliver six S-92 helicopters and…
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