In the medical and psychological literature, we find mentions of Ganser’s syndrome, a very rare mental disorder characterized by symptoms such as rough answers to simple questions, complex hallucinations, and conversational phenomena.
In this article we will analyze the causes and symptoms of Ganser’s syndrome.
What is Ganser’s syndrome?
Ganser’s syndrome is a very rare clinical picture that was first described in 1898. The name given to this phenomenon comes from its discoverer: the German psychiatrist Sigbert Ganser. We also find the terms “Hysterical pseudodemence”, “pseudodementia syndrome” and “prison psychosis”.
The latter name refers to the fact that Ganser’s syndrome has been identified more frequently than usual in inmate populations. In most of these cases, the symptoms are more likely to be an attempt to receive better treatment by prison staff or other inmates.
The most characteristic symptom of Ganser’s syndrome is the pararrespuestas or rough answers; these are failed answers but relatively close to the truth given to simple questions. Other signs of this image include conversion phenomena, ecophenomena, and apparent alterations in consciousness, among others.
The few prevalence studies available indicate that Ganser’s syndrome appears in the form more common in men than in women, In a ratio of 3: 1. The average age of diagnosis would be slightly over 30 years, although it is sometimes given in children. However, very little is known about this phenomenon due to its extreme frequency.
Possible causes and psychological hypotheses
Ganser’s syndrome has traditionally been classified as a sham disorder, which is characterized by pretend to be sick to get a “patient role”. The other typical phenomenon of this class is Münchausen syndrome, in which the person simulates psychological illnesses or trauma in order to obtain social reinforcement.
In this sense, it is necessary to distinguish between factitious disorders and simulation. In the vocabulary of clinical psychology and other related disciplines, the term “simulation” is used to refer to cases in which a disease or mental disorder is simulated for a purpose other than obtaining the role of patient, such as ‘an economic advantage.
is extended understand Ganser’s syndrome as a dissociative disorderSo it would look more like phenomena such as depersonalization, unrealization, and dissociative amnesia. Dissociative experiences consist of separations of cognitive processes (including consciousness) that occur in response to stress.
However, at present, the most accepted explanation of the causes of Ganser’s syndrome is defined as a psychotic disorder. In this regard, the association of this clinical picture with schizophrenia, intoxication of alcohol and other psychoactive substances and severe depressive disorders should be emphasized.
Main symptoms and signs
Stops, symptoms of conversion, alterations in consciousness and pseudoalucinations are the four most defining features of Ganser’s syndrome. It is also important to highlight the ecophenomena, which occur with some frequency in this clinical setting, and the high levels of stress and anxiety detected in these people.
1. Answers or approximate answers
The answers consist of answers relatively close to reality who are given easy-to-answer questions. In many cases, Ganser’s syndrome is conceptualized around such a particular manifestation; in fact, the DSM-IV manual places approximate answers at the heart of the diagnostic criteria for disease.
2. Symptoms of somatic conversion
Conversion is the presence of physical symptoms, such as sensory and motor pain or deficits, in the absence of an organic cause identifiable. Conversion disorder is currently being questioned; DSM-5 includes it in the category “somatic symptom disorder”, which also includes factual disorder, among others.
3. Alteration of the level of consciousness
The two symptoms related to the level of alert, and therefore to consciousness, which appear most often in Ganser’s syndrome are feelings of mental confusion and loss of personal identity. In general, people with this clinical picture may have difficulty responding to and processing environmental stimuli.
4. Complex hallucinations
People with Ganser’s syndrome often report hallucinations that are very elaborate and in one of the sensory modalities. Since in psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia hallucinations are usually auditory and uncomplicated, this type of story they can serve as a clue in the diagnosis of this strange syndrome.
Ecophenomena or symptoms of the ecosystem are behaviors of imitation or repetition that occur without voluntary control of the subject. Stimuli in the environment that are reproduced can be actions (ecopraxy), verbalizations (echolalia) or facial expressions (Ecomimia), among others.