intermetamorphosis syndrome

intermetamorphosis syndrome
   The term intermetamorphosis syndrome is indebted to the Latin inter (between) and the Greek metamorphoun (to change one's shape). It is used to denote a subgroup of the "misidentification syndrome which is characterized by the conviction that certain individuals have been transformed - both physically and psychologically - into other individuals. The term intermetamorphosis was introduced in or shortly before 1932 by the French psychiatrists Paul Courbon (1879-1958) and Jean Marie Tusques (1909-1983). However, as early as 1885 the Russian psychiatrist Victor Kandinsky (1849-1889) had already described the phenomenon under the German name Personenverwechselung (which translates loosely as 'mistaken identity'). Kandin-sky used the expression to denote the consistent misidentification of a person (i.e. as their son or wife, for example), even when the individual is confronted with the real son or wife. Moreover, Kandinsky had noted that affected individuals would transpose their incorrigible conviction to a different person when the first would disappear out of their lives. He came to the conclusion that this kind of mistaken identity must be based on something more than mere delusion, i.e. on illusory perception. As a consequence, he classified Personenverwechselung as a third subclass of the group of " illusions, in addition to the subclasses designated by the French alienist Jean-Etienne Dominique Esquirol (1772-1840) as "illusions of the senses and " ganglionic illusions. In an attempt to explain the mediation of cases of Personenverwechselung, Kandinsky appealed to what he called " delirium of the senses, a variant of what is generally known as " pareidolia. As he explained in Gestaltist fashion avant la lettre, "Delirium of the senses is an external state of affairs, and mostly a singular, highly specific one, that calls forth the percept at hand. Should we not assume that the images of the individual persons that call forth these cases of mistaken identity correspond in various characteristic ways with the images of the true persons? And that that is why the complete, objective image and the schematic, subjective image fall into the same place, and why the mistake is thus called forth by an event that belongs to the process of sense perception?" Conceptually and phenomenologically, the intermetamorphosis syndrome is related to " Frégoli's phenomenon, which is characterized by the conviction that a persecutor may take on successive identities and that he or she may appear at once as a family member, a neighbour, a stranger passed in the street, a doctor, etc.
   Courbon, P., Tusques, J. (1932). Illusions d'intermétamorphose et de charme. Annales Médico-psychologiques, 90, 401-406.
   Kandinsky, V. (1885). Kritische und klinische Betrachtungen im Gebiete der Sinnestäuschungen. Erste und zweite Studie. Berlin: Verlag von Friedländer und Sohn.

Dictionary of Hallucinations. . 2010.

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