A boy referred to as Michael was 14 years old when he confided in his parents that he was the son of the devil and had urges to kill people. They were shocked by his sudden mental illness, and took him to the local psychiatric ward. Over the next year, Michael was convinced he was a cat, a bird, a devil, or the comic book character Swamp Thing. He was also convinced that the family’s cat was talking to him, trying to control him, or kill him, or convince him to kill his sibling. He talked to his action figures. Doctors tried psychotherapy and a pharmacy of drugs, with no improvement. After other mental illnesses were tested and discarded, Michael was ultimately diagnosed with schizophrenia, which isn’t curable, but can be managed with drugs. But no drugs helped Michael’s symptoms. Several months in a premiere psychiatric center in another state didn’t help.
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Meanwhile, Michael’s father set out to research his son’s illness on his own. Combing through psychiatric literature and studies, he found a syndrome that fit Michael’s symptoms. It had only been identified and described a year before Michael’s break from reality. But it seemed so odd- could Michael’s illness be caused by an undiagnosed bacterial infection?
The family had already spent more than a year and some $400,000 seeking help for their son, who was no better off. Because the syndrome was so “new” and because of entrenched medical biases, it took some time to locate a clinic that might believe the father’s theory. Read the gripping story of the kid who became Swamp Boy at Now This News. -via Nag on the Lake
(Image credit: Mado Peña)