Exploring the bizarre world of the psychiatric condition called "Glass Delusion"

Imagine living in a world where your body is as fragile as a pane of glass, where every handshake and every step carries the risk of shattering into a thousand pieces. This isn't the plot of a fantasy novel but the reality for those afflicted with the glass delusion, a psychiatric condition that transformed people, particularly the nobility of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, into living, breathing sculptures of fear and fragility.

Those afflicted with the glass delusion would often take extreme measures to safeguard themselves from any contact with people or objects, fearing that any impact could lead to their breakage. King Charles VI of France, also known as Charles the Mad, is the most notable historical figure to have suffered from this delusion. He believed he was made of glass and had his clothing reinforced with iron to protect himself.

Princess Alexandra of Bavaria, a 19th-century royal, believed she had swallowed a grand piano made of glass. This delusion led her to live a life of extreme caution and isolation, as she navigated her surroundings with the constant fear that any sudden movement could cause the imaginary glass piano inside her to shatter.

Psychiatrist Andy Lameijn in the Netherlands encountered a modern instance of the glass delusion in a young man who believed he was made of glass. The patient described a sensation of being like the glass in a window—visible yet unnoticed, solid yet fragile. The patient felt that he could turn this feeling of being "there and not there" on and off at will.


  1. The princess who thought she was made of glass – BBC Culture
  2. Nobles Used to Suffer from the Glass Delusion and Were Terrified of Breaking – HistoryCollection
  3. Glass Delusion: The return of a bizarre 500-year-old mental illness – BBC News

See also: New documentary about people who think we're living in a simulation