What is Alien Hand Syndrome?

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Alien Hand Syndrome (AHS, anarchic hand, Dr.Strangelove syndrome) is a rare neurological disorder in which one hand functions involuntarily, with the victim completely unaware of its action.

Some of the symptoms of Alien Hand Syndrome are:
- involuntary reaching and grasping
- touching the face
- tearing at clothing
- involuntarily stuffing food in the mouth
- preventing the normal hand from completing simple tasks
- self inflicted punching or choking


How do the patients feel about their 'alien hand'?

Patients retain all sense of feeling in the alien hand, but they often describe feelings of disassociation. Patients may also exhibit strange behaviors, such as speaking to the hand, claiming demonic (inspired as if by a demon, indwelling spirit, or genius) possession or referring to it in the third person. Often, patients experience psychological problems and embarrassments.


Example of a patient who has Alien Hand Syndrome

A 68-year-old woman, who was hospitalized after extensive brain damage and dementia, claimed that a ghost was pulling her hand. She told the medical personnel that she was afraid her hand would harm them. Her fear proved to be justified, as she later tried to strangle one of the examiners with her left hand. But that is not the end of the story; she later tried to strangle herself by wrapping the call button cord around her neck with her left hand. This case, reported in an article in the July 2008 issue of The Consultant, is an example of a rather well-documented disorder known as Alien Hand Syndrome.


Is there a cure for Alien Hand Syndrome?

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There is no current cure for alien hand syndrome and only practical treatments exist at this time. The afflicted often keep the hand "occupied" by giving it an object to hold, though some patients have gone as far as wearing oven mitts or tying the rogue hand behind their backs. While no cure exists, it has been reported that gradual recovery can take place when only one hemisphere of the brain has been injured.


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