Bizarre Examples of Folie á Deux

Folie á deux, also called shared psychosis or shared delusional disorder (SDD), is an identical or similar mental disorder that affects two or more people. Usually, they are close family members or they share a close bond. The mental symptoms are often paranoid delusions and hallucinations that are transmitted from one person to another. Here are five examples of folie á deux that you may think are quite bizarre.

1. Margaret and Michael

In the 19th century, Margaret and Michael (pseudo names), a married couple, were the first reported case of folie á deux. They both had delusions that there were people oppressing them. They believed that the people were entering their home and spreading dust and fluff everywhere and using their shoes. They were both thirty-four years old.

2. Folie á Deux with a Pet

Folie á deux was experienced between an 83-year-old woman and her pet dog. The widow believed that her neighbor was excessively loud and was moving furniture in their upstairs apartment to annoy her and cause her to leave her home. She thought the neighbor was transmitting “violet rays” through the ceiling which affected her back. For her dog, she constructed an “air raid shelter” and insisted that the dog sleep in it. Whenever the dog heard noise from upstairs, it went for shelter. Whether this was conditioning encouraged by the woman or true folie á deux, the dog definitely was in on it.

3. The Three Sisters of South Carolina

One of three biological sisters from South Carolina had three children. The sisters were concerned that their mother, who suffered from mental illness, would harm the three children. Within a few months of living together, the sisters became very close and were inseparable. They spent hours praying and having bible study and were convinced that God communicated with them. One night, after one of their husbands objected to them living together, they left their home with the three children and drove to a house they claimed was given to them by God. They broke into the house and assaulted the residents and the officers who were called to the scene.   

4. Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb

Leopold and Loeb were teenage lovers. Leopold was the submissive one who shared Loeb’s dominant thoughts. This was one known case of folie imposee which occurred where the dominant individual’s delusions were also shared by the submissive one. The two boys were detective fiction enthusiasts and became criminals. They started fires, broke into buildings and even hurt people. They were later caught and charged for their crimes.

5. The Tromp Family

On 29th August, 2016, Mark and Jacoba Tromp and their 3 adult children left their Australian home abruptly and proceeded on a road trip. They were of the delusion that someone was trying to steal their money and harm them. The thought originated with Mark Tromp but when they left for the unplanned trip, they were all convinced of it to some extent. They left behind their phones and credit cards in fear that they would be tracked. Along the way, Michell, the couple’s son, began to realize that there was no danger and left them to return home. The others got separated but after several unusual twists, they were all found. This case of folie á deux left the police baffled. 


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