WTF? Woman's Rare Condition Made Her See Human Faces As Dragons
In 2011, a Dutch psychiatric clinic was presented with one of the most terrifying mental disorders when a 52-year-old woman arrived for treatment.
The woman suffered from prosopometamorphopsia, a mental disorder that significantly warps the way one sees faces.
This woman's case, in particular, made the faces of others resemble those of dragons, Science Alert reports.
In The Lancet, researchers wrote,
She could perceive and recognise actual faces, but after several minutes they turned black, grew long, pointy ears and a protruding snout, and displayed a reptiloid skin and huge eyes in bright yellow, green, blue, or red. She saw similar dragon-like faces drifting towards her many times a day from the walls, electrical sockets, or the computer screen, in both the presence and absence of face-like patterns, and at night she saw many dragon-like faces in the dark.
Prior to her treatment, the hallucinations occurred too often for her to keep a job.
She underwent an MRI, an electroencephalogram (EEG), a blood test and several brain exams, but no abnormalities were found.
Doctors tried numerous treatments without success before finally curbing the hallucinations with Rivastigmine, an anti-dementia medication.
The medication reportedly targets acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter associated with learning and memory.
Rivastigmine is proven to allow sufferers of early-onset Alzheimer's disease recognize faces.
Currently, the woman has a steady job, and her hallucinations have lessened immensely.
It isn't clear what causes prosopometamorphopsia, but according to Science Alert, it can emerge after a stroke, a tumor or an experience with hallucinogenic drugs.
Hallucinations as specific as those suffered by this woman, however, are extremely rare.