British Journal of Clinical Psychology

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Volume 32 Issue 3 (September 1993), Pages 261-388

Sequential Cotard and Capgras delusions (pages 345-349)

We report sequential Cotard and Capgras delusions in the same patient, KH, and offer a simple hypothesis to account for this link. The Cotard delusion occurred when KH was depressed and the Capgras delusion arose in the context of persecutory delusions. We suggest that the Cotard and Capgras delusions reflect different interpretations of similar anomalous experiences, and that the persecutory delusions and suspiciousness that are often noted in Capgras cases contribute to the patients' mistaking a change in themselves for a change in others (‘they are impostors’), whereas people who are depressed exaggerate the negative effects of the same change whilst correctly attributing it to themselves (‘I am dead’). This explains why there might be an underlying similarity between delusions which are phenomenally distinct.

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