She's Not Possessed, She Has Brain Damage!
This condition is called Foreign Accent Syndrome, a rare neurological condition caused by lesions and damage on certain parts of the brain. With those areas that control language and speech slightly damaged, the patient's entire speech pattern can be altered.
Ms. Roberts not only speaks with a distinctive English accent (a mix of English Cockney and West County), but the pitch and her pronounciation of words has changed as well. When researchers listened to previous audio recordings of her voice, they noticed immediately she used to speak in a much lower pitch and her Midwestern/Southern accent was deep. Although physically, Ms. Roberts has recovered very well, emotionally it's been a different story.
"People in America accuse me of lying when I say I was born in Indiana. They would say 'What are you saying that for? Where in England are you from?' I would insist that I am not." Ms. Roberts has become reclusive, as her neighbors have pretty much ostracized her, thinking she was faking an English accent to sound posh.
Interestingly, Ms. Roberts even uses British slang terms like "loo" and "bloody." She has never been to England and never knew anyone from England prior to her stroke. Oxford scientists are still trying to figure out the nature of Foreign Accent Syndrome, but they have already confirmed that after brain trauma, it is possible for a person to pick up an accent without having had any exposure to that accent.
The first documented case of Foreign Accent Syndrome was in 1941 in Norway. She had brain trauma from shrapnel during an air raid. After her recovery, she spoke with a very thick German accent and was likewise ostracized by her people.
This kind of neurological brain disorder is so strange, and I wondered what other kinds of disorders are out there. What I found was that some of these make Foreign Accent Syndrome seem more like lunch at the park. Take a look:
Alien Hand Syndrome: Damage to the right hemisphere can "disconnect" the left hand. In other words, patients don't have conscious control of their left hand anymore. One patient was reported to say that his left hand wanted to take over, and the guy would literally yell and violently hit his own hand. My suggestion would be to have someone with Alien Hand Syndrome over for dinner...it should be a smashing good time. His right hand would pick up the roll, but his left hand would try to stuff a turkey leg down his throat. Let the battle of hands begin!
Cotard's Syndrome: This type of brain disorder is when a person has the delusion that he is a walking corpse. He may even say that he can smell his own flesh rotting. Damage to the right temporal lobe is thought to be the cause of this affliction. While in line at Wal-Mart a couple days ago, this old guy next to me must've had some nasty case of gingivitis...and I SWEAR his flesh really was rotting. I don't think he had Cotard's Syndrome, though. He just smelled bad.
Kluver-Bucy Syndrome: What do you get when there's damage to the front of the temporal lobe and the amygdala just below? You get a really horny patient that loves to hump inanimate objects! Patients with this neurological disorder are unable to distinguish what any object might be used for. Although this syndrome is associated with hypersexuality, it really isn't a purely sexual disorder. A person with this illness might easily try to eat a table or have sex with a statue. Actually, it might be more fun to invite someone with Kluver-Bucy Syndrome to dinner...but maybe not at my house. I don't want some guy having sex with MY refrigerator.