Rosato’s Capgras Saga Continues

Tony RosatoWe have covered comedian Tony Rosato‘s struggles with Capgras Syndrome before (here and here). Now the Toronto Star newspaper reports that Rosato has been confined, for the past eight months, to a Kingston, Ontario mental hospital where he is refusing treatment and no one has the legal authority to mandate treatment for him. Typically the patient’s spouse is given such authority, but because Rosato’s wife has complained to police about his behavior in the past, she is not eligible to oversee his care.

Capgras Syndrome causes the sufferer to believe that people close to him or her have been replaced by imposters. Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran explains that the syndrome results from damage to the pathway that connects the part of the brain that mediates visual recognition to the part that mediates emotional reponse. When recognition of a person is not accompanied by the expected emotional response, the sufferer infers that the person recognized is not authentic — i.e., is an impostor.

Rosato believes that his wife and child have been kidnapped and replaced by impostors. Rosato was a performer on SCTV in 1980 and on Saturday Night Live in 1981-1982. Before entering the mental hospital, he was jailed for over two years on charges of threatening his wife and child, whom he believed to be impostors.

About Christopher Green

Professor of Psychology at York University (Toronto). Former editor of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences. Creator of the "Classics in the History of Psychology" website and of the "This Week in the History of Psychology" podcast series.