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.
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?
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-
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 ROOM IS TOO SALTY. OH FUUUUUUUUUCK."
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."
Foreign Accent Syndrome
Foreign accent syndrome describes a condition where the sufferers suddenly begin speaking in a foreign accent that they have no earthly business possessing. Caused by brain injuries or strokes, psychologists are pretty sure the sufferers aren't faking it, even if that's exactly what it sounds like is going on.
"Right!? But no, seriously: we checked."
The Superhero: Mr. Pretentious
Using his incredible ability to sound slightly French, Mr. Pretentious has the power to immediately make anyone in a room hate him a little bit more.
"What ees thees shhhit? Croshed grahp jooce?"
Yes, this is a slightly marginal superpower, but fortunately for him, Mr. Pretentious only concerns himself with pretty marginal crimes. Correcting minor misconceptions about things, or teaching the world how great it is to not own a TV.
Alien Hand Syndrome
Alien hand syndrome is a little less cool than what it sounds like, but only a little. Although no actual aliens are involved, it does involve sufferers experiencing the sensation of their limbs having a mind of their own. Sufferers have reported their hands trying to choke them, tear at their clothes or simply punch them repeatedly.
"C'est moi again! Oh, the indignities I have suffered for this column!"
People who suffer from AHS, as it's known, evidently still feel everything their limb is doing, but feel disassociated from its actions. Really, it's exactly the kind of thing people used to get burned as witches for, which is probably why it wasn't first documented until the 20th century, when society stopped doing that.
The Superhero: The Grabber
Most descriptions of AHS involve the alien limb acting destructively, but what if the hand was actually wiser and more heroic than the owner? What if the hand wanted to stop crime and defend the weak using ancient martial knowledge its owner knows nothing about?
Or, just to harass women on public transit? Evil women, I guess.
Kluver-Bucy syndrome describes a condition where, after experiencing damage to a specific part of the brain, the victim suddenly finds himself, amongst other symptoms, desiring to indiscriminately have sex with things. This is classically illustrated by the case of a fellow trying to make love to a sidewalk, an act that I'm struggling to imagine was very tender.
The Superhero: The Bonelord
I'm not going to lie: I'm pretty fucking excited about the Bonelord, and will sue the hair off of anyone who infringes on this idea. Here's what I'm thinking:
By day the Bonelord is billionaire playboy John Johnson, known for his vast fortune in military research and the loose-fitting trousers he's never seen without. But, using his expertise and resources to craft a variety of weaponized... prosthetic... weapons, by night he transforms into the Bonelord, and goes forth to fuck crime.
If two years from now the Bonelord isn't the star of the next big movie franchise, I will be pretty goddamned surprised. Sure, this will be a little hard to fit within the confines of a PG-13 rating, but with some clever editing, and the bulk of his on-screen crime-fucking left to inanimate objects only, I don't see how this is any worse than most comedies these days. And once you see the storyboard I've drawn of a dude fucking a bus in half, I'm sure you'll see the potential as well.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and is waiting for your call, Hollywood. Join him on Facebook or Twitter and gaze upon the other incredible things he has wrought.