It had been the worst day of my life today. Tired, I closed my apartment door, throwing the keys carelessly on the kitchen counter. I’ll get a drink, perhaps; thinking so, I walked over to the cabinet to get myself a cup. Suddenly, I felt a strange sensation in my hand. I kept directing it to the cup, but it won’t do so. Frantic, I desperately grabbed my hand with the other, forcing it to carry out my action….but somehow, it had a will of its own. It wouldn’t do what my brain asked it to do. It was as if….. my hand was alienated from the rest of my body. An Alien Hand.
Terrifying, isn’t it? When we suddenly lose control of a part of our body, sure, but when it starts to move on its own? I’d definitely exorcise my hand. But no, there is no need to do so, because it is nothing paranormal, its just another psychological syndrome, more commonly known as the Alien Hand Syndrome.
The Alien Hand Syndrome
You see, it is a condition where a person experiences his limbs moving on their own, without any control. It derives its name from the fact that it commonly affects the left hand. If I had to express it in other words, it would mean a ‘disentanglement’ between the thought and the action. Despite being a neurological disorder, people often associate AHS with psychology.
Its quite detrimental, especially when the hand suddenly grabs objects or stuffs food, sometimes causing harm not only to others, but also the poor individual. Patients often feel a disassociation with the alien hand, furthermore, they also claim to involuntarily ‘speak’ to the hand, as if it were another separate individual. However, this syndrome is fairly rare : people have reported only four dozen cases in the world. This is mostly because the causes vary, or usually take place after an incision to the corpus callosum. Even if there is no cure as such, proper medication can bring it fairly under control.
The Case Of Karen
Source of this excerpt can be found here
It started after Karen had surgery at 27 to control her epilepsy, which had dominated her life since she was 10. In Karen’s case her surgeon cut her corpus callosum, a band of nervous fibres which keeps the two halves of the brain in constant contact. Cutting the corpus callosum cured Karen’s epilepsy, but left her with a completely different problem. Karen told me that initially everything seemed to be fine. Then her doctors noticed some extremely odd behavior.
“Dr O’Connor said ‘Karen what are you doing? Your hand’s undressing you’. Until he said that I had no idea that my left hand was opening up the buttons of my shirt.
“So I start re buttoning with the right hand and, as soon as I stopped, the left hand started unbuttoning them. So he put an emergency call through to one of the other doctors and said, ‘Mike you’ve got to get here right away, we’ve got a problem’. Karen had emerged from the operation with a left hand that was out of control.
“I’d light a cigarette, balance it on an ashtray, and then my left hand would reach forward and stub it out. It would take things out of my handbag and I wouldn’t realize so I would walk away. I lost a lot of things before I realized what was going on.”
In Popular Media
- Parasyte Anime makes use of the alien hand concept in the series.
- In House M.D. episode ‘Both Sides Now’, the patient is suffering from Alien Hand.
- South Park episode ‘Fat Butt and Pancake Head’, shows Eric Cartman suffering from AHS.
- In Episode 12, Season 1 of the Netflix show Grace And Frankie, the character Frankie refers to alien hand syndrome.
- In Season 4 Episode 5 of Grey’s Anatomy ‘Haunt you Every Day’, a patient complains of ‘Alien Foot Syndrome’.
- Tamil comedy ‘Peechaankai’ is about an AHS patient.
- In Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film ‘Dr. Strangelove’, the Peter Seller’s character is shown to be suffering from alien hand syndrome.
- What is your opinion about Alien hand syndrome?
- Have you ever met someone with AHS?
If somehow your hand suddenly started acting like an independent individual, what would you do? What would you do if it started speaking and doing actions as per its will?
- What would happen if one of your internal organs were to behave on their own accord?
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