Alien hand syndrome sufferer


via Boing Boing by David Pescovitz on 1/25/11

Karen Byrne, 55, suffers from Alien Hand Syndrome. The condition began after surgeons snipped her corups callosum, connecting her brain’s two hemispheres, to treat her epilepsy. She’s featured on The Brain: A Secret History, a documentary series on BBC Four. From the BBC:

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 behaviour.

“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 rebuttoning 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 realise so I would walk away. I lost a lot of things before I realised what was going on.”

Alien Hand Syndrome sees woman attacked by her own hand(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)


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