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Volume 162 - Anno 2011 - Numero 1

Folie ŗ deux: double case-report of shared delusions with a fatal outcome


di A. Talamo, A. Vento, V. Savoja, D. Di Cosimo, S. Lazanio, G.D. Kotzalidis, G. Manfredi, N. Girardi, R. Tatarelli

Background. Treatment of shared delusional disorder (folie ŗ deux) often involves separation and use of antipsychotic medication, with uncertain outcomes and potential risks. Methods. We report on two highly interdependent and chronically psychotic sisters with shared systematic delusion, followed by psychiatrists over several years. Results. The dominant patient was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder and her non-dominant sister with paranoid schizophrenia. Both received antipsychotics and supportive therapy as outpatients and allowed to continue conjoint therapy with individual psychiatriststherapists. They returned for follow-up visits for 20 months, when the dominant decided to continue treatment alone, as her sister gradually improved symptomatically and functionally. After separation, the dominant became increasingly anxious. She impulsively ingested an overdose of the non-dominant sisterís medicines and died of cardiac arrest, despite her sisterís efforts to seek medical assistance. The surviving non-dominant sister developed anxiety and increasing agitation requiring psychiatric hospitalization and increased pharmacotherapy. She improved gradually, but continued to be dysfunctional and required placement in a psychiatric inpatient unit for several months, eventually doing better in a community-based rehabilitative program with regular psychiatric follow-up. Conclusions. Combined treatment of patients with folie ŗ deux may encourage continuous pathological interactions, but separation may increase risk of adverse outcomes. Clin Ter 2011; 162(1):45-49

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