Skip to main content

Fregoli Delusion

Current story may involve a character suffering from Fregoli Delusion. If you haven't heard of this condition it's part of a whole class of delusional misidentification syndromes where the brain basically fails to associate a person, place or object correctly. If you look at some one you've known you're entire life and you think they are an imitation you may have a Capgras Delusion. You believe that you are already dead you may be experiencing Cotard's Delusion.

In the case of Fregoli, the believer will maintain that people he or she meets are all in fact the same person in a variety of disguises. The delusion is named after a turn-of-the-century quick change artist, Leopoldo Fregoli, who would astound audiences throughout Europe with rapid, seamless alterations of identity during the course of this stage shows. Fegoli Delusion, like the DMS's, are often caused by traumatic brain injuries, particularly those causing damage to the prefrontal lobe.

Fregoli Delusion is interesting to me because of the many narrative possibilities that disorder represents. First off, I want to say sincerely, that if you or if someone you care about suffers from this condition please don't take my ramblings on this topic to be anything more than the musings of a partially informed amateur genuinely curious about misfirings of the brain. I mean no disrespect.

The Philip K. Dick identity paranoia aspect of this, though, are truly amazing. Imagine, for a second, the life of someone with this delusion. People, maybe everyone, maybe just one subset of the population are actually all the same. Actors playing a variety of roles. It would be like living in Cloud Atlas (the movie) all the time; people you know are Tom Hanks keep putting on ridiculous gobs of make-up and pretending to be someone else. It would be living with a conspiracy so incompetent, its very cack-handed existence was a insult to your intelligence.

"Seriously, people, at least try to cover things up!"

Somewhat more sinister would be a person where the entire world was somehow occupied by a shape-shifting other, like the alien from John Carpenter's The Thing. Everyone you knew had already been assimilated, it just hadn't bothered with you yet. Or possibly, like the 70s version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" you might convince yourself that by acting 'the part' you might evade detection. Your life would become a very unpleasant movie.

From the literature I've been able to track down, the delusion can be more localized, however. The believer might identify only a handful of people who share the Fregoli identity. These quick-changers persecute the believer, stalking them. Sort of the faceless Men in Black at the core of every conspiracy story.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Review of I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski

Even 23 years later, I remember 1994 and Kurt Cobain's death. I experienced that moment as a kind of inside out personal crisis. I felt ashamed by his death. As though his exit in someway indicted my own teenage miseries. "I wish I was like you," goes the verse in 'All Apologies,' "Easily amused." I felt as though a check I hadn't remembered writing had just been cashed. 


SP Miskowski's book, named after the first half of that line, is in the words of another reviewer, a novel that shouldn't work. The narrator is unlikeable, unreliable, and dead. The plot is almost entirely told as a flashback and long sections of the novel concern the inner processes of the writer. The daily grind to summon up enough self-esteem to carry a sentence to its logical conclusion is a real struggle, people, but it ain't exactly riveting.

But the thing is, this novel works. It is one of the best things I've read all year and a real achievement in weird ficti…

"A Breath from the Sky" Story Announcement!

I am thrilled to share the news my story, "Promontory," will appear in an upcoming anthology of unusual possession stories published by the incredible Martian Migraine Press. The anthology, "A Breath from the Sky,"puts together a classic H.P. Lovecraft tale and twenty other atypical stories of possession. Judging from the cover and the list of impressive authors, I'm anticipating pure awesomeness. "Promontory" is a possession story and one of my more overtly horror tales, so I'm overjoyed that it found a host, er, home here. I am sharing the Table of Contents below, as well as a link to the announcement on the Martian Migraine website to provide a sense of what this collection will be about. The cover is amazing, the other authors selected for the collection are amazing, and I have to say, having a story appear alongside a classic tale like HP's "Colour Out of Space," feels pretty darn amazing. I hope to provide more information abou…

In Defense of Brevity

As a writer of short speculative fiction, I am also a reader. I was a reader first and my love of the genre leads me to want to write short fiction. I think one of the most important things a writer can do is read contemporary's work. If nothing else, you're likely to be entertained - there's a great amount of stupendous short fiction available out there for exactly nothing. But it also tends to helps to develop craft. 
Long-time readers of this blog know I write up recommendations of a few short stories each month I really enjoyed. "Sic Semper, Sic Semper, Sic Semper by Carl Wiens" was my favorite story of the year. The first line of this story pretty much sums it up: "The time traveler set up a studio apartment in Abraham Lincoln’s skull in the frozen moment before Booth’s bullet burst through and rewired history," but I also enjoyed "The Girl Who Escaped from Hell" By Rahul Kanakia and "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies," by Brooke Bol…