Pica Syndrome: Disease that causes craving and eats paint and dirt
By Lawal Sherifat
People with pica syndrome are not picky eaters like the name implies, people with this condition crave and ingest unappetizing items including paint, clay, chalk, soap, plaster, and dirt, as well as more edible raw goods like rice or flour. To be diagnosed with pica, cravings must be continuous for over a month. Symptoms are seen most commonly in pregnant women or children. Some suspect the syndrome is caused by a mineral deficiency, but experts do not agree on the cause or cure.
Mirror-touch synesthesia: Disease that causes one to literally feel other peoples’ pain
There are mirror neurons present in our brains, which is responsible for why we might cry when we see someone else’s tears. But people with mirror-touch synesthesia are believed to have overactive mirror neurons, making their responses much more extreme. The condition causes people to literally feel the physical sensations when they watch another person being touched. For example, mere witnessing a scene of a person being injected by a doctor might cause the sufferer a physical sensation of pain.
Marie Antoinette syndrome: Disease that makes hair turn white almost overnight
If your hair abruptly turns white as a result of stress or bad news, you might suffer from canities subita, also called Marie Antoinette syndrome. The condition was coined for Queen Marie Antoinette of France—whose hair reportedly turned white the night before her guillotining—but is also said to have affected famous figures like Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin. A number of factors could be to blame, including an autoimmune disorder that targets melanin, affecting pigment production.
congenital analgesia: Disease that prevents one from feeling pain
Believe it or not, a small portion of the population would not feel a thing if you pinched, prodded, or poked them. They have what is called congenital analgesia, an inherited genetic mutation that prevents the body from sending pain signals to the brain. While this may sound like a Superman-worthy trait, it’s not all good. Sufferers may not realize they’re burning themselves, for example, or they may ignore and fail to treat infections or broken bones. Repeated injuries could also shorten the sufferer’s lifespan, per the NIH.
Hyperthymesia: Disease that causes you to remember every single day of your life
Ask someone what they were doing on this exact day eight years ago, and most people wouldn’t have a clue. People with hyperthymesia, however, can tell you exactly to the minute. Hyperthymesia is a rate. So far there are 33 people who can recall every detail about every day of their lives, usually starting from a specific date in their youth. Because the condition is so uncommon, experts do not yet have enough information to theorize a cause or cure.