Although modern medicine has made advanced tremendously in many areas, there remain aspects of human health that has not been yet solved. Alien hand syndrome is one of these puzzles, with its sufferers having one of their hands, usually, the non-dominant one, acting as if it has a mind of its own.
Described by scientists as a “complex, goal-directed activity in one hand that is not voluntarily initiated,” sufferers from the disorder are aware of the movement but often feel as if they have no control over it. Normally occurring on the non-dominant side, many patients with this condition get to the point where they refer to the hand as if it is another person. Frequently, suffers may complain, “I can’t make it listen to me.”
Symptoms range from compulsively grasping and releasing an object to fully self-oppositional movements, like unbuttoning a shirt as the other hand buttons. In between the extremes, some suffers can control the arm with great effort, although even then, their movements may be imprecise; for example, while trying to touch the tip of the nose, they touch the shoulder instead. Extreme and fatal cases have been reported where the hand has attacked, and even tried to strangle with a cord, the person to which it’s attached.
There is no known cure for this condition yet, though it can usually be controlled somewhat by giving the alien hand something to do, like having it hold a book while you are in public, so the hand stays occupied.
Many cases have been reported where patients have said that they fear that their hand might harm them. The patients say that they feel as if the hand is not a part of their body and has a mind of its own.
So the next time you want to complain about your arthritis, trigger finger, writer’s cramps or dishpan hands, take a moment to think and be thankful that at least you know what your hand is doing, and you don’t have the nearly uncontrollable urge to chop it off.
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