A Most Difficult Case
Of the cases with which our mental health
team has dealt over the years, Frederick Hollingsworth stands as
the most perplexing.
It was some ten years ago when I received a
referral from his doctor to say that Mr Hollingsworth of 7,
Waterside Mews was manifesting a most unusual mental aberration.
He was a new patient to the doctor, and on the doctors very
first visit to his home, Mr Hollingsworth had claimed to be
somebody completely different. I and another member of the mental
health team had been called at once, and it soon transpired that
Mr Hollingsworth believed himself to be a George Robinson. This
confusion of personal identity was sufficient for us to
immediately detain him in a psychiatric hospital. We then
proceeded to piece together his story.
From medical records and other sources I
initially established his real life history as a point of
reference and to aid in reorienting him to reality. It appeared
that he had worked in the local car factory for many years prior
to retirement and had been married to Millie, who had died five
years previously. Sadly he had no children or other surviving
relatives. When confronted with these facts, he was able to
accept that he had no surviving relatives, but claimed never to
have been married and believed that he had worked for the Post
The remarkable thing about his confabulated
personality was its attention to detail. He was able to describe
the Romsey sorting office almost as if he had worked there. I
published a paper on this phenomenon, and some people went as far
as to speculate on some paranormal ability that might lead to
such an accurate insight into the real life aspects of his
Due to his inability to accept his real
identity, he remained detained in hospital for a further eight
years. Another remarkable aspect of his condition then emerged
with the discovery of photographs taken during his middle age.
They looked nothing at all like him and led to me writing another
paper which postulated that the extreme nature of his delusion
that he was George Robinson had led to an actual change in his
physical appearance. I have since developed the theory of somatic
muscular reconfiguration (SMR) and lectured upon it world-wide.
As his disorder appeared to be untreatable
he has remained in hospital until the present. We had believed
that his case was unique. This very week, however, my team has
encountered an almost identical circumstance. Once again a new
doctor visited a patient in our area who believed himself to have
a totally incorrect identity. Initially I thought there had been
an almost unbelievable coincidence as the new patient also lived
in Waterside Mews. It soon occurred to me, however, that the new
patient, Mr Robinson, could easily have read the research papers
on Mr Hollingsworth and incorporated the information into his
delusion that he was Mr Hollingsworth.
In any case, for his own protection and
that of the public, we promptly visited 7A, Waterside Mews and
took him away.