The Capgras delusion: a critique of its psychodynamic theories

Am J Psychother. 1983 Jul;37(3):428-38. doi: 10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1983.37.3.428.


The psychodynamic explanations for the Capgras delusion are reviewed. A critique is offered, showing how these theories fail to account for several important clinical phenomena found in patients with the Capgras delusion. A new psychodynamic theory is suggested that attempts to encompass all of the significant clinical phenomena. This hypothesis is based on findings in a series of fourteen schizophrenic patients with the typical delusion. The focus is on the patient's loss of a stable sense of identity. By the process of projection the patient ascribes his identity diffusion to those around him who are then seen as unreal impostors.

MeSH terms

  • Capgras Syndrome / psychology*
  • Delusions / psychology
  • Ego
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Projection
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Regression, Psychology
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Self Concept