6 Mental Conditions That Could Be Mistaken for Superpowers

Mental illnesses are nothing to laugh at. Victims suffer from not just the surface symptoms, but also from massive social stigmas. Because of how awful human beings are, and their knack for sniffing out anyone acting outside of the accepted social rules, people who exhibit behavior outside these norms -- even if it's because of an illness -- often find themselves taking tremendous amounts of shit from their peers. Especially if their peers are teenagers, the most shit-laden of all peers.

That purse? Packed to the brim with feces.

So, in the interest of karmic rebalancing, I've identified a number of rare mental conditions that, when looked at in a slightly different light, appear to be less a cause for mockery and more a cause for envy, because they're pretty clearly perfect backstories for superheroes. Should you come across anyone suffering from such a condition, do everything you can to treat them nicely, lest you find yourself carving a throne for them in the ages to come.

#6. Wendigo Psychosis

Cracked has actually talked about wendigo psychosis before; in short, it inflicts in its sufferers an intense desire to eat human flesh, even when that's not really necessary.

"Oh shit, guys, I'm sorry. I was just thirsty."

The name derives from the wendigo, a mythical cannibal monster from Native American legends. It's basically a zombie from the campfire-story era of public entertainment. In fact, just looking at the symptoms of the disease, we're kind of lucky that it hasn't been renamed something stupid, like zombieitis, given how insatiable the public's appetite for zombie-related things is and how willing public figures are to pander to it. Has originality died completely?

The Superhero: Zombor

It would seem so.

In my defense, Zombor will be a lot better dressed than most zombies.

In practice, though, "Zombie as a superhero" is actually a pretty original concept, especially when we dig a bit deeper into the Wendigo psychosis, a big part of which involves the sufferers fearing their transformation. So, our Zombor will be a morally conflicted superhero, one afraid of his power, in an obvious shout-out to the Jekyll/Hyde stories. Can poor Todd Zombor control his urges? And how does he square that with his duty to devour all shoplifters?

#5. Jumping Frenchmen of Maine

Jumping Frenchmen of Maine is the extremely odd name for an extremely odd condition, which is essentially an unusual startle reflex. People who suffer from this condition exhibit jumpiness, shuddering and muscular and verbal tics. Even stranger is the inexplicable tendency to follow commands that are delivered suddenly. Some sufferers have been reported to throw knives across the room, simply because they've been asked to really abruptly.

The condition was first discovered among lumberjacks in Maine, and named by some incredibly literal-minded doctors. Given its rarity, no one's very sure of the cause, with most of the research apparently dedicated to finding out what were the best childish pranks to pull on the sufferers.

It makes for just about the least sporting "Stop hitting yourself" games imaginable.

The Superhero: Suggest-A-Bull

To make this stupid, punny theme work, Suggest-A-Bull will first need the strength of a bull, which I imagine he'll acquire through relatively normal means. Like say he's an orphan who was raised by the membership of a Gold's Gym or something, with all the strength and personality flaws that would imply.

Yeah. This is exactly what I'm thinking.

But his real power comes from the special Bluetooth headset he wears (horn-themed, naturally), connected to a group of expert detectives and martial artists who, from a distance, tell Suggest-A-Bull what to do. "Pick up that clue!" they'll shrewdly advise. "Punch that guy!" they'll yell. "Stop getting punched! No! Stop getting punched! Man, the controls on this guy suck. Do you wanna go, Gary?" -hands off controller and microphone-

#4. Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

Alice in Wonderland syndrome is characterized by the sufferers experiencing both severe migraines and drastically incorrect perceptions of themselves and their surroundings. Classically, they often perceive objects and the rooms around them to be much bigger or smaller than they actually are. Similar sensations regarding sound and depth perception are also known to occur, the whole thing being not too dissimilar from what someone taking LSD might experience.

"There's something wrong about this table. I want to say it looks more ... 'sevenish.' But that's not right. What do you think?"

The Superhero: Malice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland syndrome alone isn't especially useful as a superpower; it doesn't actually make things bigger or smaller. But I'm imagining, with the help of a powerful wizard or some carelessly discarded alien technology, that our hero Malice can make reality conform to her perceptions, an ability she could use to right injustices in a variety of vaguely Fantastic Voyage-ish ways.

"Our only chance is to send these three children inside the web."

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Chris Bucholz

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