de Vattel Delusion Disorder – A Psychiatric Diagnosis

Anguish by Delusions by Angelia

de Vattel Delusion Disorder is a condition in which a person believes, or pretends to believe, in the face of all available contradictory evidence, that the writings of Emerich de Vattel provide the basis for the legal term natural born citizen in American law, and thus it requires two citizen parents to obtain to the Presidency or Vice-Presidency of the United States.  Emerich de Vattel, (25 April 1714 – 28 December 1767), was a Swiss philosopher, diplomat, and legal expert who wrote The Law of Nations.

The delusional nature of this belief is easily demonstrated by three simple, and uncontested facts. First, natural born citizenship is a legal concept firmly rooted in English common law which pre-dates the birth of de Vattel by several centuries. Second, there is no mention of de Vattel’s alleged definition of natural born citizenship  being used in any legal case in either American law,  or in English law prior to the American Revoluion.  Third, the definitions provided for natural born citizenship in American case law clearly utilizes a birth-place centered approach in contrast to de Vattel’s alleged blood-line centered approach. There is no reasonable doubt but that Emerich de Vattel’s supposed influence is a pure figment of the person’s imagination.


Criteria for diagnosis includes adhering to the delusion in the face of all contradictory evidence, engaging in bizarre statements of illogical fancy in defense of the delusion, and engaging in paranoid conspiratorial thinking to explain the rational world’s complete dismissal of the delusional belief.

Relation to Ganser Syndrome and Differential Diagnosis:

Ganser Syndrome  (ganser from the Middle High German word for a goose) is included in the DSM IV’s diagnosis for Factitious Disorders.

Ganser syndrome was in the past regarded to be a separate factitious disorder. It is a reaction to extreme stress or an organic condition; the patient suffers from approximation or giving absurd answers to simple questions. The syndrome is sometimes diagnosed as merely malingering; however, it is more often defined as a Factitious disorder. This has been seen in prisoners following solitary confinement, and the symptoms are consistent in different prisons, though the patients do not know one another.

Symptoms include a clouding of consciousness, somatic conversion symptoms, confusion, stress, loss of personal identity, echolalia, and echopraxia. Individuals also give approximate answers to simple questions such as, “How many legs on a cat?” “Three”; “What’s the day after Wednesday?” “Friday”; and so on. The disorder is extraordinarily rare with fewer than 100 recorded cases. While individuals of all backgrounds have been reported with the disorder, there is a higher inclination towards males (75% or more). The average age of those with Ganser syndrome is 32 and it stretches from ages 15–62 years old.

While closely related to Ganser Syndrome particularly by the resort of absurd answers to simple questions, the de Vattel Delusion Disorder is distinguished by several factors.

First,  Ganser Syndrome is extremely rare, while de Vattel Delusion Disorder is very widespread. Second, the questions involved in de Vattel Delusion Disorder are of a higher order of intellectual functioning.  A person could reasonably be mistaken about the state of the law. Therefore, it is the degree of adherence in the face of contradictory evidence to this demonstrably false belief which marks the person suffering from de Vattel Delusion Disorder. Finally, many of the rewards for persons suffering with Ganser Syndrome or other Factitious Disorders, are the attention gleaned from medical personnel and family members. With de Vattel Delusion Disorder, it is the attention and interaction with other persons afflicted with the disorder which appears to provide the reward structure.


The motives of the patient can vary: as in those suffering from Factitious Disorders, the primary aim is to obtain sympathy, nurturance, and attention accompanying the contrarian role from other such believers. This is in contrast to malingering, in which the patient wishes to obtain external gains such as disability payments or to avoid an unpleasant situation, such as military duty. [Although there are reports of several persons suffering from de Vattel Delusion Disorder using the delusion to get out of military service.] Factitious disorder and malingering cannot be diagnosed in the same patient, and the diagnosis of factitious disorder depends on the absence of any other psychiatric disorder. Factitious disorder is considered a mental disorder, while malingering is not.

Secondary goals include political advantages gained from casting certain candidates for presidential office as ineligible. While this recent outbreak was related to Barack Obama, a person who had but one citizen parent, the sufferers are equally convinced that persons on the other side of the political spectrum, such as Senator Mark Rubio of Florida, and Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana are ineligible for the Presidency or Vice-Presidency.

Finally, one can not doubt but that the person suffering from this delusion also enjoys the prestige that he imagines attaches to his role as an ersatz  lawyer or legal expert. In much the same way that 4 and 5 year old children believe dressing up in mommy and daddy’s clothing makes them appear adult-like, the  person with this delusion attempts to subsume the very role of the lawyers and judges upon whom they heap so much derision. Like those same children, they only appear silly and foolish to others not inside their play group.

Causes of de Vattel Delusion Disorder

As with other forms of the related Factitious Disorders, there are many possible causes for this disorder. One such possibility is an underlying personality disorder. Indeed,  many persons suffering from this delusion, also exhibit various forms of Antisocial personality disorder. For example, they may refuse to obtain a driver license, and object to the role of courts and judges in their life.  Individuals may be trying to deceive or test authority figures. For some, there is no higher authority figure than the President of the United States, who is often referred to as the most powerful man in the world.

These individuals may be trying to reenact unresolved authority issues with their parents. This would explain the contempt with which these persons view the courts, the legal system, lawyers, and judges. All these institutions and authority figures constrain the person suffering from this delusion from doing exactly as they please. The use of the term tantrum-like behavior does not go too far in describing the actions and thought processes of these persons.

Treatment and Prognosis

At present, there is no treatment protocol for these persons. No true psychiatric medications are prescribed for disorders of this type. Due to the extreme nature of their belief system and its deep roots in the flawed personalities of the sufferers, any attempts to address the intellectual shortcomings of their delusion will prove ineffective.  They do not care what a court decision may say, because they have no respect for courts, or any other authority figure.

The prognosis for treatment, or care, is not good without intense individual therapy such as is used with those suffering from Anti-social personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder. Public shaming, ridicule, and pubic exposure of the absurdity of the delusion may act to inhibit the spread of this disorder, and may cause the sufferer to moderate his expression of his delusion to some degree to avoid embarrassment. But while this may push down the de Vattel Delusion Disorder, the underlying psychopathy is likely to surface in other delusions which provides the same ego satisfaction. It is like the Whack-A-Mole amusement park game, wherein when one “whacks” one mole, another mole or more surfaces.

What really needs repair, is the underlying psychological state of persons suffering from this delusion.

Squeeky Fromm
Girl Reporter
aka Dr. Squeeky

Note 1: Here is a link to Factitious Disorders and Ganser Syndrome. This is a fascinating topic:

Note 2: For some really beautiful art, like the above image, visit this link to see more by the artist, Angelia:

Note 3: Required Financial Disclosure: I have no investment or financial position in any straitjacket manufacturers.


About Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

Hi!!! I am a Girl Reporter on the Internet. I am 34. Plus I am a INTP. I have a Major in Human Kinetics, and a Minor in English. I have 2 cats, and a new kitten! I write poetry, and plus I am trying to learn how to play guitar. I think that is all??? Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter View all posts by Squeeky Fromm, Girl Reporter

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