Alien Hand Syndrome

Topics: Corpus callosum, Alien hand syndrome, Cerebral cortex Pages: 3 (1029 words) Published: May 17, 2012
Neurological Disorders: Alien Hand Syndrome
Alien Hand syndrome, also known as Anarchic Hand syndrome and Dr. Strangelove syndrome, is a neurological disorder in which a person’s hand seemingly has a mind of its own. The person will feel normal sensation, but will have no conscious control of their afflicted hand or hands. This syndrome is best documented when a person has the two hemispheres or their brain surgically separated, a routine surgery for those with epilepsy. A person with alien hand syndrome can feel normal sensation in the hand and leg, but believes that the hand, while still being a part of their body, behaves in a manner that is totally distinct from the sufferer's normal behavior. They feel that they have no control over the movements of the 'alien' hand, but that, instead, the hand has the capability of acting autonomously — i.e., independent of their voluntary control. The hand effectively has 'a will of its own.'

"Alien behavior" can be distinguished from reflexive behavior in that the former is flexibly purposive while the latter is obligatory. Sometimes the sufferer will not be aware of what the alien hand is doing until it is brought to his or her attention, or until the hand does something that draws their attention to its behavior. Sufferers of alien hand will often personify the rogue limb, for example believing it to be "possessed" by some intelligent or alien spirit or an entity that they may name or identify. There is a clear distinction between the behaviors of the two hands in which the affected hand is viewed as "wayward" and sometimes "disobedient" and generally out of the realm of their own voluntary control, while the unaffected hand is under normal volitional control. At times, particularly in patients who have sustained damage to the corpus callosum that connects the two cerebral hemispheres, the hands appear to be acting in opposition to each other. Damage to the corpus callosum can give rise to...
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