The French King Who Thought He Was Made Of Glass

One of the most intriguing ailments in the history of psychiatry is “glass delusion” — the belief that the body is made of glass and in need of protection from shattering. In 1392, young French King Charles VI was marching through a forest in northwest France when a servant dropped a lance and the loud clang threw the 23-year-old king into an uncontrollable frenzy. Blindly lashing out with his sword, he managed to kill five of his own knights before being restrained. His malady grew worse every day until his mind was completely gone. Thinking he was made of glass, he refused to let anyone touch him. He even wrapped himself in blankets and had iron rods put into his clothing so he wouldn’t break if he fell. King Charles VI suffered 56 mental health episodes during his lifetime. The prevalence of glass delusion dropped off considerably after the late 17th century, with the last recorded case dating back to the 1930s in the Netherlands.