Capgras syndrome: a review of the neurophysiological correlates and presenting clinical features in cases involving physical violence

Can J Psychiatry. 2004 Nov;49(11):719-25. doi: 10.1177/070674370404901102.


Objective: Acts of violence have been frequently reported in cases of Capgras syndrome (CS), a misidentification syndrome characterized by the delusional belief that imposters have replaced people familiar to the individual. CS has been observed in many neuropsychiatric and organic disorders, and neuroimaging studies indicate an association between CS and right hemisphere abnormalities. However, CS has received limited attention from a forensic psychiatric perspective. We propose that elucidating demographic and clinical features noted in cases of violence secondary to CS may highlight important factors in the progression of CS to violence.

Method: We review the neurophysiological correlates and clinical factors observed in CS and present characteristics of a series of cases that demonstrate the potential of CS patients for severe physical violence toward the misidentified person.

Results: For patients with CS involving assault, we present and discuss commonly reported demographic and clinical features that may contribute to an increased risk for violence.

Conclusions: An understanding of the presenting clinical features of CS resulting in aggressive acts may assist clinicians to assess the potential for violence in these patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain / physiopathology*
  • Capgras Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Capgras Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Delusions / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hostility
  • Humans
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prosopagnosia / diagnosis
  • Violence / psychology