Bimonthly, Established in 1959
Open access journal

Capgras Syndrome

Capgras Syndrome is a fascinating yet rare psychological disorder in which an individual believes that someone they know, often a close family member or friend, has been replaced by an identical impostor. This delusion can also extend to pets and even inanimate objects. It is named after Joseph Capgras, a French psychiatrist who first described the disorder in 1923.

Characteristics and Symptoms:

  • Delusional Beliefs: The core symptom of Capgras Syndrome is the delusional belief that doubles have replaced people the patient knows.
  • Emotional Distress and Anxiety: Individuals with Capgras Syndrome often experience significant emotional distress due to their beliefs. They may feel paranoid or fearful around those they believe are impostors.
  • Recognition Disconnect: Interestingly, patients with Capgras Syndrome can recognize the physical appearance of those around them but feel a profound emotional disconnect, leading them to conclude that the person in question is not who they appear to be.

Causes and Associated Conditions:

Capgras Syndrome is often associated with other neurological or psychiatric conditions, including:

  • Schizophrenia: It’s more commonly seen in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder.
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases: Conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia are linked to Capgras Syndrome, especially in older adults.
  • Brain Injury: Trauma to the brain, such as from an accident or stroke, can trigger symptoms of Capgras Syndrome.
  • Epilepsy: Particularly temporal lobe epilepsy has been associated with this syndrome.


The exact cause of Capgras Syndrome is still not fully understood, but it’s believed to involve a disconnect between facial recognition abilities and the emotional response usually triggered by a familiar face. This disconnect is thought to occur due to abnormalities in the brain areas involved in processing facial recognition and emotions, such as the fusiform gyrus and the amygdala.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

Diagnosing Capgras Syndrome involves a thorough psychological evaluation, often accompanied by neurological assessments to rule out or identify any underlying conditions. Treatment typically focuses on addressing the primary condition if identified, such as managing schizophrenia or dementia. Antipsychotic medications can be used to reduce delusional beliefs, and in some cases, therapy can help manage the emotional distress caused by the syndrome.

Psychotherapy may also be beneficial, especially in helping the patient and their family cope with the complexities of the disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and supportive therapy can provide tools for managing delusions and improving communication between the patient and those around them.

Capgras Syndrome presents unique challenges, both in diagnosis and management, and requires a nuanced approach tailored to the individual’s specific needs and underlying conditions.