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The Nosological Significance of Folie à Deux: A Review of the Literature


The Nosological Significance of Folie à Deux: A Review of the Literature

Danilo Arnone et al. Ann Gen Psychiatry.


Background: Folie à Deux is a rare syndrome that has attracted much clinical attention. There is increasing doubt over the essence of the condition and the validity of the original description, such that it remains an elusive entity difficult to define.

Method: We conducted a systematic review of the literature of all cases reporting the phenomenon of Folie à Deux, from the years 1993-2005.

Results: 64 cases were identified of which 42 met the inclusion criteria. The diagnoses in the primary and secondary were more heterogeneous than current diagnostic criteria suggest. There exists a high degree of similarity between the primary and secondary in terms of susceptibility to psychiatric illness, family and past psychiatric history, than previously thought.

Conclusion: Folie à Deux can occur in many situations outside the confines of the current classification systems and is not as rare as believed, and should alert the clinician to unrecognized psychiatric problems in the secondary.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Demographic Characteristics, Family and Psychiatric History. Difference in age between primary and secondary: (#) not statistically significant difference; (##): χ2 = 7.51, df = 26, p > 0.05. Difference in gender in the primaries: (*) χ2 alpha = 0.005 df = 1 and (§) χ2 = 4.67, df = 1, p > 0.05. Difference in gender in the secondaries: (**) χ2 alpha = 0.05 df = 1 and (§§) χ2 = 4.67, df = 1, p > 0.05. Difference in family history between primaries and secondaries: (¤)χ2 = 0.84, df = 1, p = 0.359. Difference in past psychiatric history between primaries and secondaries: (¶) χ2 = 1.67, df = 1, p = 0.196. NS = Not stated.

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