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Mental Disorders Even though people are different, sometimes it's hard for us to really get a sense of how we differ from others, and how others differ from each other. Studying mental disorders is a really good way to learn about how people's minds and emotions can be different in ways that you might not have ever really considered. For instance, most of us always see one person as one person. But some people don't. They have what's known as Fregoli Syndrome--a disorder that makes them think that one person is someone else in disguise. Someone with Fregoli Syndrome might become convinced that the waiter at his local cafe is actually his mailman in disguise, or that Ricky from I Love Lucy is actually just Ross from Friends in disguise. He watches TV and thinks, "I can't believe Ross is cheating on Rachel with Lucy! I thought he was a nice guy!" A few episodes later, TV becomes more complex than a Leo Tolstoy novel. "Ross got into a fight with his first wife Carol over their son Ben, then Ross's ex-girlfriend Rachel told him that he should spend less time with Ben and more time with their daughter Emma, then Ross and Joey played a game of catch with Ross's son Little Ricky and Ross's new girlfriend Anna Karenina, and then Fred, Ethel, Chandler, Phoebe, Al, Peg, Ralph, Alice, Lucy, my mailman, and Napoleon tried to conquer Russia and sneak their way into a show at the Tropicana." My neighbor has Fregoli Syndrome--but he's a little mixed up about the whole thing. One day, he was at a supermarket, and he thought, "There are Cheerios for $4, and there are Tasty-Os for $2.50. They're both pretty much the same-only Tasty-Os are less tasty than Cheerios. And then there's Frosted Flakes. A talking tiger is telling me that they're grrrrreat. Why would I take cereal advice from a carnivore? I think if a tiger is recommending food, he should be saying something like, 'Raw, bloody zebra intestines. They're grrrrreat.'" And then later, my neighbor thought, "Why did I just spend twenty minutes analyzing cereal? Maybe I'm not me. Maybe I'm Jerry Seinfeld in disguise as me. No one else would analyze cereal like that for so long." And now my neighbor thinks he's Jerry Seinfeld. He calls me Kramer, and our mailman Newman. And then a couple of weeks ago, just to make things even more confusing, he became convinced that Jerry Seinfeld is actually Ross from Friends in disguise. "What's the deal with Rachel? And what's the deal with Frosted Flakes?" I once saw an A&E documentary about some guy who has Fregoli Syndrome. But he also has Narcissistic Personality Disorder--the one that makes you

think everything should be about you. He has a strange combination of those two things. In other words, he has Narcissistic Fregoli Syndrome. And at one point during the documentary, he tells his psychologist, "My coworker Bob from accounting isn't Bob from accounting. He'sme from accounting. He's me disguised as him. I'm also a few million other people." Then the psychologist replies, "How are you Bob from accounting? Do you even know anything about accounting?" And the guy says, "That sounds like something I'd say. I'll bet you're also me, too. You're me in disguise as you. I'm glad we got to the bottom of this. Good work." And then he takes out his checkbook, and pays himself $100 for the session. "We're a really good psychologist." One of the most common mental disorders is bipolar disorder. About 3% of people have it. A bipolar person has extreme moods and personality changes, and might become very high for several days, and then very low for a few weeks. Politics would be way more entertaining if we had a bipolar person as our president. If you want more people to watch the news, just On January 10th, he'd tell us, "Free healthcare for everyone. You get a pill, you get a pill, you get a pill..." And then on January 20th, he'd show up at your door and say, "Give us back those pills. They're ours! We paid for them!" February 23rd: "I'm going to pardon everyone for everything. You get a pardon, you get a pardon, you get a pardon...." March 5th: "My mother's a terrorist. Let's kill her." May 2nd: "We need to deport all Mexicans, build an electric fence at the border, and declare war on Mexico." May 5th: "Hola mis amigos. Feliz Cinco de Mayo." I guess bipolar people don't really belong in power. It's a good thing I don't have bipolar disorder. I'm not the President--but I'm more powerful and influential than he is. OK. Let's move on to our next disorder: megalomania, which is "delusional fantasies of power or relevance." The President has that one. After all, he thinks he's more powerful and influential than I am. What a lunatic. The most common mental disorders of all are addictions. I have one of those. I'm addicted to petting dogs while vacuuming my carpet. One of the best known mental disorders is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. It makes people feel like they have to do things like wash their hands 30 times a day, walk around the block three times before entering a building, knock on a drawer before opening it, or play hopscotch after eating vanilla ice cream. You can find people with OCD in almost all walks of life. Comedian and TV personality Howie Mandel has a serious case of it. And he manages to deal

with it. Same goes with many other people. In fact, I once saw an A&E documentary about a gangster with OCD. At one point, he's on a street corner, and some other gangster says something that offends him. And then the the OCD gangster flips out. "What'd you say?! That's it. I'm gonna to beat your ass! ... But first, I'm gonna spin around seven and a half times, do a cartwheel, and sing 'I'm a Little Teapot' while scratching my belly." Believe it or not, his OCD actually gives him more street cred. The other gangsters think, "This guy's crazy. If he's willing to sing 'I'm a Little Teapot,' then he's probably willing to do anything." My favorite mental-disorder-themed TV show is a sitcom called Romaine Joe. It's about a guy who has a rare disorder that makes him unable to tell the difference between money and lettuce. He's played by Ray Romano. And his wife is played by Leah Remini. Here's scene from episode 8. His wife says, "Damn it, Joe! Did you eat all of our money again?" [Joe:] "I don't know, honey. I might've. Earlier today, I ate what I thought was lettuce--but I suppose it could've been money." [Wife:] "Damn it, Joe! Can't you tell the difference between money and lettuce?" [Joe:] "No. You know that, honey. I can't tell the difference between money and lettuce. That's the disorder I have. Money and lettuce. They look, feel, smell, and taste the same to me." [Wife:] "Well why the hell would a bunch of lettuce be in our bedroom drawer? Did you ask yourself that question?" [Joe:] "Listen. I saw some lettuce in the drawer, and I like lettuce, and I wanted lettuce--so I ate it. If you saw a bunch of lettuce in a drawer, you'd eat it, too." ]Wife:] "You're not even taking context into account! What about the time you walked into a bank, and you withdrew what you thought was a pound of Romaine lettuce? You ended up eating our life savings!" [Joe:] Honey--we've been through this a thousand times. I was walking past some place where people appeared to be walking out with lettuce. So I went in, waited in line, and filled out what I thought was a lettuce withdrawal form. And I withdrew what I thought was 35,000 units of lettuce." [Wife:] "Well why don't you just stop eating lettuce? That way, even if you think money is lettuce, you won't eat it." [Joe:] "Honey--it's lettuce, I like it. I'm not gonna give it up." [Wife:] "That's it! This is where I draw the line. It's me or the lettuce. Which one is it gonna be? Pick one." {Joe:] "Honey--I just got back from work. I'm tired. I don't feel like making decisions right now. How about I go into the den, watch some TV for an hour, and maybe eat a few pounds of romaine--and then I'll get back to you?" Nowadays, psychologists and psychiatrists usually have to talk to someone to figure out what disorders he has. But some people are saying that in the future, a patient will just spend a few minutes getting a blood test and brain

scan--and then a computer will examine the results and tell the guy something like, "You're a little depressed, very narcissistic, somewhat obsessivecompulsive, and a little antisocial. We're gonna fix your internal chemistry and standardize your emotions. Pull up to the window with $473.69, and we'll give you a Happy Meal containing 10 grams of Prozac to increase your serotonin, 1 gram of Topac to decrease your meraphozin, two all-beef patties of Effexor to boost your norepinephrine, and a Shrek promotional toy."

Mental disorders