Delusions of pregnancy, in a man

A 1999 case report describes a 29-year-old man who developed the delusional belief that he was pregnant.

Mr. R., a 29-year-old married man from a semi-urban background with 8 years’ education, was brought by his wife to the outpatient department at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India, with a 2-month history of suspicious and assaultive behaviour. He would look at the sky and say that everyone including God was trying to assault him. He also claimed that there was a baby in his abdomen.

He believed that he had Jesus in his abdomen to start with, but later reported that Jesus had flown away through his mouth, but was replaced by a human baby. He was sure that the child was 40 days old and it was the same child his wife was having. He could also feel the movements of the child and was sure that it was growing. However, he did not have any other symptoms of pregnancy. He was withdrawn and his food intake was inadequate.

Although the case reported here wasn’t the first case of male delusional pregnancy ever described (though, admittedly, they are rare) this one was of particular interest because, although the gentleman recovered, he later developed another brief psychosis where the delusion returned.

For the second time, he believed himself to be carrying a child. Curiously, both incidents occurred when his wife was genuinely pregnant.

Although there is no clear explanation for why it occurred in this particular case, there is, however, evidence that men show hormone changes when their female partners are pregnant, possibly linked to a well-known syndrome called ‘Couvade syndrome‘ where men can show sympathetic signs of pregnancy.

We’ve discussed delusions of pregnancy before although they are, unsurprisingly, much more common in women.

Link to PubMed entry for case report.

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