Understanding Diogenes Syndrome

Diogenes syndrome is a rare condition which occurs when someone with no known genetic or congenital defects experiences unusual physical characteristics due to an unknown cause. These include:

A long, thin body with short arms and legs (known as “diaphragmatic hypotonia”)

An unusually small head (known as “microcephaly”)

Short stature (known as “short stature” or “microcentenarians”)

The exact causes are not fully understood but it is thought that diogenes syndrome may result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. There have been several theories proposed including:

Genetic mutations causing abnormal development of certain organs or tissues, leading to abnormally small heads, microcephalic children, and other anomalies.

Environmental toxins such as lead, mercury, pesticides and even chemicals found in the human brain.

Other conditions such as cancer, diabetes, and epilepsy.

In some cases, there may be no obvious cause of the anomaly. In others, they may appear after birth or later in life. They can occur only in males or females and most commonly affect infants under the age of one year old.

However, they can also occur at any time during childhood and even in adults.

The exact prevalence is unknown but believed to be around 1 in 500 people.

There is no specific treatment or cure for diogenes syndrome, however, early identification and treatment may help. Treatment may include:

Physical therapy to develop motor skills, learning how to move and strengthening muscles

Occupational therapy to assist with everyday tasks

Speech therapy to treat speech defects and help with communication skills

Speech therapy can help those with this condition speak more clearly.

Sources & references used in this article:

Diogenes syndrome in frontotemporal dementia by CM Finney, MF Mendez – American Journal of Alzheimer’s …, 2017 – journals.sagepub.com

Diogenes syndrome: a transnosographic approach by C Hanon, C Pinquier, N Gaddour, S Saïd, D Mathis… – L’Encephale, 2004 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

A Psychoanalytical Approach to Diogenes Syndrome by FD Camps, J Le Bigot – The Psychoanalytic Review, 2019 – Guilford Press

Diogenes syndrome revisited by S Amanullah, SK Oomman, SS Datta – Ger J Psychiat, 2009 – researchgate.net

Diogenes syndrome in patients suffering from dementia by G Cipriani, C Lucetti, M Vedovello… – Dialogues in clinical …, 2012 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

TD: The case of Diogenes Syndrome—deficit or denial? by F Ashworth, A Rose, BA Wilson – Neuropsychological rehabilitation, 2018 – Taylor & Francis

Understanding hoarding and hoarding behaviors by T Maier – Psychiatric Times, 2005 – go.gale.com