Alien Hand Syndrome

Your Hand's Own Mind

What is AHS?

Alien hand syndrome, or AHS, is a rare neurological disorder that is caused by trauma to either the corpus callosum or the frontal lobe that results in hand movement without the person being aware to what is happening or being able to control it.


The corpus callosum connects the two-halves of the brain and when damaged, results in either the right hand or the left hand doing its own thing, per se.


The frontal lobe, when damaged, can trigger grasping movements or other, more serious issues, such as unbuttoning your own shirt.

History

AHS was first identified in 1909, and since then, there have only been about 40 to 50 cases since then.


Alien hand syndrome is also called "anarchic hand" and "Dr. Strangelove syndrome", coming from Stanley Kubrick's 1964 political satire black comedy "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb". The eponymous character Dr. Strangelove is an ex-Nazi scientist whose right hand will often fly out into a Nazi salute, or try to choke himself.

Dr. Strangelove (8/8) Movie CLIP - Living Underground (1964) HD

Signs and Symptoms

  • The affected hand does something that the person that is affected is unaware of.
  • It would come to a point of awareness to the affected when the hand behavior catches his or her attention.
  • The affected would believe that they are being possessed of some sort or they would believe that an alien has taken over his or her hand.

Real life cases

In New Jersey, a 55-year old woman named Karen Byrne suffers from Alien Hand Syndrome; her left hand and sometimes her left leg act on their own.


She had surgery when she was 27-years old to stop her epilepsy, which had been affecting her for 17 years. The cause of her AHS was that her doctor severed the "corpus callosum", which kept the two halves of her brain in constant contact.


Her doctor noticed there was a problem when her left hand started to undress her and she had no idea.


Eventually, she was given a medication to bring the right side of her brain back under control.

Treatments

There are currently no known treatments for Alien Hand Syndrome, however, if there was a treatment, it would include the affected person doing specified exercises to regain more and more control over the "alien hand".

Sources

"Alien Hand Syndrome." MedicineNet. 14 June 2012. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=12655>.


Bryant, Charles. "How Alien Hand Syndrome Works." HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks.com. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/alien-hand.htm>.


Blevins, Melissa. "The Curious Case of Alien Hand Syndrome." Today I Found Out. 23 May 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2013/05/the-curious-case-of-alien-hand-syndrome/>.


"Alien Hand Syndrome." - Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Facts. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://syndrome.org/alien-hand-syndrome/>.


Mosley, Dr. Michael. "Alien Hand Syndrome Sees Woman Attacked by Her Own Hand." BBC News. BBC Four's The Brain: A Secret History, 20 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-12225163>.


"Dr. Strangelove (8/8) Movie CLIP - Living Underground (1964) HD." YouTube. YouTube, 8 Mar. 2013. Web. 15 Apr. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mzddAYYDZkk>.