- Mirrored-self misidentification
Mirrored-self misidentification is the delusional belief that one's reflection in a mirror is some other person (often believed to be someone who is following one around). Often people who suffer from this delusion are not delusional about anything else. It is considered a monothematic delusion; it is sometimes labeled a delusional misidentification syndrome. The disorder is often found within the context of dementia and can also be caused by the organic dysfunction resulting from traumatic brain injury, stroke, or neurological illness.
Like other monothematic delusions, mirrored-self misidentification is currently thought to be initially caused by a neurological defect, typically in the right hemisphere, which affects one's experience. Current research points to two potential dysfunctions that may lead to this disorder:
- Patients who have impaired face perception (i.e. prosopagnosia) and thus can no longer recognize themselves (similar to Capgras delusion)
- Patients who have lost the ability to interact appropriately with mirrors.
In an episode of CSI: NY, entitled Heart of Glass a man was found dead in his apartment with his sister, who claims she was attacked by a woman who had somehow entered their apartment twice before. It was eventually revealed that the woman had Capgras syndrome and that the "intruder" was actually her own reflected image in various surfaces. It was during the last "struggle" with the "intruder" that she accidentally killed her brother. This was later confirmed during interrogation when she tried attacking her own reflection in the interrogation room's two-way mirror.
- Breen N., Caine D., Coltheart M. (2001). Mirrored-self misidentification: two cases of focal onset dementia. Neurocase 7(3), 239-54.
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