What is Shared Psychotic Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

The shared psychotic disorder is a form of psychosis, a mental health condition. Today, we’ll discuss what is shared psychotic disorder is; its symptoms, causes, and treatment. 

What is Shared Psychotic Disorder? 

The shared psychotic disorder is a rare mental health condition where a person that doesn’t primarily have the psychotic disorder would follow and believe in the delusions of the other person with delusional disorder. For instance, a wife would follow and take in the delusions of her husband, despite the fact that she doesn’t have any type of mental illness. 

Baillargeon was the first person to recognize the condition in 1860. It goes by different names at different times, and some of them are as follows; 

  • Simultaneous Psychosis (Folie Simultanee): it’s a state where both persons live in the primary delusions and they share with each other. Regis was the first person to float the term in 1880, and Lehman coined another name is “folie induite” in 1885
  • Communicated Psychosis (Folie Communiquee): Maradon De Montyel floated this term in 1881
  • Madness Shared by Two (Folie a Deux): Falret and Lasegue floated this particular term in 1877

The total numbers of reported cases of the shared psychotic disorder are very low ranging from 1.7% to 2.6% in the hospital admissions. It’s highly probable that many of the cases would go unreported. 

If the primary person doesn’t reach out for help for one’s mental condition or behaves in a way to attract the attention of others. The secondary person won’t ask for help either. It is because none of them are realizing the fact that their delusions aren’t real. 

The SPD condition exhibits in various groups phenomenon; the experts refer to it as “madness of many” or “folie a pulsiers.” The religious, political, or social cult is a very good example of it. However, when the group leaders are suffering from a mental condition and they transfer their delusions to the entire group. Mass hysteria is the more appropriate term for the larger group setting. 

Symptoms of Shared Psychotic Disorder 

The signs of a shared psychotic disorder would rely on the diagnosis of a primary person with delusional disorders. Some of the main features of the condition that are the same in different cases are as follows; 

Primary Symptoms 

The primary person with mental illness and the second person experience the same types of delusions. Both of them don’t have an insight into the problems and recognize the fact that what they believe isn’t true. The secondary person would gradually develop the delusions, and their normal skepticism and doubts would decline with the passage of time. 

The person would experience hallucination (hearing and seeing things that aren’t there) and delusions (believing in things that aren’t true or based on reality). 

Delusions would be mood neutral (relevant to bipolar disorder), mood congruent, non-bizarre, and bizarre. The bizarre delusions are impossible physically and they know that they could never happen. However, the non-bizarre delusions are possible, but it’s highly improbable for them to occur. 

Secondary Symptoms 

You’re living in delusion; it impacts the physical health of both people with the condition because of the high level of cortisol and stress levels. The secondary mental illness would develop depression and anxiety because of the prolonged fear and stress. However, both individuals would be far away from reality and struggle in their routine daily life, because of the psychotic condition. 

For instance, non-bizarre delusions comprise thinking that the CIA and FBI are tracking you and observing your movement. The bizarre delusions comprise thinking that aliens abducted you and conducted an operation on you when you’re sleeping. 

Generally, both individuals are suspicious of others, feel fearful, and are paranoid. If you challenge their delusions, they would become angry and defensive. However, the primary person with mental illness won’t realize the fact that he/she is making the other person ill. They would believe that they’re opening the eyes of the other person to the truth. 

Causes of Shared Psychotic Disorder 

Some of the main possible causes for the development of the shared psychotic disorder, and they’re as follows; 

  • The primary and secondary persons are living in social isolation from the outside world. It’s almost impossible for them to know the difference between real and non-real, without any social comparison. 
  • Stressful life events and high level of chronic stress 
  • The primary person has the dominant nature and the second person has the submissive nature. The secondary person agrees with the dominant person and starts believing in delusions over time 
  • The connection between primary and secondary person is very strong and close like mother-daughter, sisters, parents, or couples 
  • The secondary person has the dependent personality characteristics that have difficulty with critical thinking 
  • The secondary person is also experiencing mental conditions like dementia, schizophrenia, or depression 
  • Aging difference between the primary and secondary person 
  • The secondary person is relying on the primary person for physical or emotional support 
  • The shared psychotic disorder is more common in females 

Treatment of Shared Psychotic Disorder 

The share psychotic disorder is a rare mental condition, and it doesn’t have a standard protocol for treatment. The first measuring protocol you can do is to separate the second person from the primary person. The separation would decrease the delusional symptoms in the second person. Some of the main treatment approaches for SPD condition are as follows; 

  • Counseling and psychotherapy would help you to focus on the dysfunctional emotional pattern and emotional turmoil 
  • Family therapy would promote healthy social relationships, using medicines, and encourage the secondary person to develop interests, hobbies, and passion 
  • Medicines like mood stabilizers, antidepressants, tranquilizers, and antipsychotics would help you to deal with symptoms 

Conclusion: What is Shared Psychotic Disorder? Symptoms, Causes, Treatment 

After an in-depth study of what is shared psychotic disorder; its symptoms, causes, and treatment; we have realized that SPD could badly impact a person’s life. If you’re experiencing its symptoms, then you should discuss it with the therapist and ask for help.