I am Sam Vaknin, and I am the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited.
It is common knowledge that brain disorders, injuries and traumas are sometimes misdirectors as mental health conditions.
But what about run-of-the-mill organic medical conditions?
Cephalis provides a fascinating example. Cephalis is a venereal sexually transmitted disease. It has a few stages and involves unpleasant phenomena such as lesions and skin eruptions. Cephalis can go dormant, latent for years or even decades before it affects the brain in a condition known as general paresis.
Brain tissue is gradually destroyed by the tiny organisms that cause Cephalis, the spirochetes.
This progressive devastation of the brain causes pneumonia, dementia, megalomania, delusions of grandeur and paranoia.
Even when its existence is suspected, Cephalis is difficult to diagnose. Most mental health clinicians are unlikely to try to rule it out at all.
Cephalis, in its tertiary, brain-consuming phase, produces symptoms that are easily misdiagnosed as bipolar disorder combined with narcissistic and paranoid personality disorders.
Cephalitic patients in the tertiary, brain-consuming stage are often described as brutal, suspicious, delusional, moody, irritable, raging, lacking empathy, grandiose and demanding.
And if this sounds familiar, that's also a very good description of narcissistic personality disorder.
Cephalitic patients are indecisive and absorbed in irrelevant detail in one moment and irresponsibly and maniacally impulsive the next.
They exhibit disorganized thinking, transient false beliefs, mental rigidity, and obsessive compulsive repetitive behaviors.
Adolf Hitler was remote diagnosed by the famous psychoanalyst Erich Fromm as suffering from narcissistic personality disorder.
Fritz Redlich, retired dean of the Yale Department of Psychiatry, published a book titled Hitler: Diagnosis of a Destructive Prophet in 1998.
In this book, Redlich describes the final stages of general neurosyphilitic paresis.
Quote, science and symptoms include rapid mental deterioration, psychotic and usually absurdly grandiose behavior, page 231.
It is easy to confuse tertiary syphilis with personality disorders, especially the narcissistic and paranoid ones.