We all know how many different syndromes exist in the world, physical and mentally. But for today we made a careful selection to show you three disorders that seem completely out of a sci-fi movie… or your worst nightmare!
– Alien: The alien hand syndrome (AHS) is a rare neurological disorder characterized by involuntary motor activity of one hand. The subject thinks his hand is alive, and since it behaves independently from its owner wishes, he interpretes the involuntary movements as intentional. That’s why it’s also known as the syndrome of the “alien hand“.
Some AHS patients fail to get out of a room because while one hand opens the door the other one closes it. Sounds funny, but it becomes more serious when the alien hand attempts to strangle its owner or stab it with a knife, endangering the patient’s own life.
It is believed that the alien hand syndrome results from the disconnection between the different hemispheres of the brain to control the body, usually after a surgery used to ease the symptoms of extreme cases of epilepsy. As a result, the different regions of the brain control the movements of the body without being aware of what the other parts are doing.
There is currently no known treatment for alien hand syndrome, although symptoms can be reduced alien hand occupied with a task, such as holding an object with it.
– Zombie: Cotard’s syndrome is a strange mental disorder associated with hypochondria, and it makes people think they are dead. Patients come to believe that their internal organs have stopped working, the heart’s not beating, they don’t have blood or brain… also, they experience some olfactory hallucinations that make them believe they’re rotting, may even get to say they’ve worms slithering over their skin.
The patient believes he has died, and also some people close to him, and along with this he develops a sense of immortality, as if he had become a “lost soul”. Cotard syndrome occurs in three stages: germination, flowering and chronic. In germination patients feel depression, hypochondria and anxiety; in flowering, symptoms worsen, and in the chronic stage, the worldview is completely distorted.
This syndrome’s been related to people with kidney failure using a medicine for herpes called acyclovir. It increases the amount of a blood component called CMMG, than in people with kidney problems takes longer to leave. This substance alters blood pressure affecting the brain, more specifically to the area that recognizes faces, which makes the patient not recognize their relatives anymore. They’re away from the world feeling their own dead.
– Werewolf: Clinical lycanthropy is a psychiatric disorder that causes a hallucination in the affected person making him believe it may become an animal. The symptoms vary over a wide range, depending on the local culture where this phenomenon occurs; but overall this syndrome shows a mental imbalance in which the patient actually believes his metamorphosis into an animal and acquires their behavior: growling, walking on all fours, biting objects, being aggressive or eating raw meat, for example.
Clinical lycanthropy refers not only to the transformation from human to wolf; there are reported cases of patients having “turned into” a dog, a frog and even a bee. Also there is even a report of a patient who suffered mentally metamorphosis in four different species of animals!
A neuroimaging study of two people diagnosed with clinical lycanthropy revealed changes in brain areas that represent how we perceive our body image, like the map of our body. These two subjects showed in their brain, when they felt were becoming animals, a pattern of abnormal activity. The study suggests that, when these people say that their body is changing, they’re really feeling it, that’s the information their brain’s processing.
This disorder usually subsides when the underlying disease (usually schizophrenia) is controlled by medical treatment (neuroleptic drugs) and psychological therapy. The range of duration of the syndrome may be from 1 day to 13 years.