The Phoenix

Monday, February 05, 2007

Alien Hand Syndrome

And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast [it] from thee...Matthew 5:30

Imagine if one of your hands had a mind of it's own. Our of nowhere, your hand would begin moving and doing things without your controlling it. What if you were in the middle of a job interview, and one of your hands tried to pick your nose? It sounds like a nightmare, doesn't it? However, to those suffering from Alien Hand Syndrome (AHS), it's a nightmare come true.

I did a post on several rare and bizarre syndromes back in 2005 here. I did mention alien hand syndrome, but I feel compelled to do this whole post on the topic.

A person with this very real and disturbing sickness feel that at certain times, they do not have any control over one of their hands. The alien hand will feel independent from the rest of the body, and will move uncontrollably - as if it had a mind of it's own. Patients feel that their hand is not their own and is possessed by some other entity.

The alien hand could make 'involuntary' jerking movements, it might unbutton a shirt, or even try to hurt the sufferer. There have been stories of people being choked by their own hand in the middle of the night.

That gives me the heebie jeebies.

How did these poor people get this awful syndrome?

Often, patients will develop alien hand syndrome after some type of brain trauma, particularly to the corpus callosum, the bridge between both hemispheres. People with this condition might find their non-dominant hand actually acting completely on it's own. For example, a right-handed person trying reach for the remote control might get slapped by his left "alien" hand.

With damage to the parietal lobe of the brain, a patient might also find one of their hands suddenly goes rogue. The alien hand will often do very purposeful stuff, like unzipping pants, dialing a phone, lighting a cigarette, or flipping through a book.

If a person's frontal lobe is damaged, they could find that their dominant hand will often grab stuff and not let go. Often times, the patient might have to pry the object out with his non-dominant hand.

Scientists are still pretty baffled by this condition, as there are so many complicated variables involved. There is no cure.

Although the exact nature of this strange affliction remains somewhat a mystery, it hasn't stopped Hollywood from using alien hand syndrome to spice-up story lines. Here are just a few examples of AHS in television and films:

Liar Liar: Jim's Carey's character loves to tease his son by unleashing "The Claw." His right hand would suddenly act on it's own and try to attack his kid. That's a great defense should he accidentally abuse his son.

Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb: Comedic genius Peter Sellers plays the wheelchair bound Dr. Strangelove. His gloved right hand would try to choke him to death or give a Nazi salute. One of the funniest scenes in the film is when Dr. Strangelove is fighting with his right hand for control over his wheelchair.

Futurama: The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings: On this TV cartoon show, Fry is a terrible holophonor player and wants to win the one-eyed Leela's love. So Fry makes a Faustian deal with the Robot Devil. The Robot Devil and Fry exchange hands, and suddenly Fry is a world-renowned holophonor musician. Here's an excerpt from this episode:

Leela: I've been a fool. A fully justified, prudent fool. (touches Fry's hands) Aaah! They're so cold!

Beelzebot: (off screen) And yet hell is so hot! Ahhahahahah! Can I have my hands back now?

Fry: No!

Beelzebot: (off screen) You're not nice!

Maybe O.J. Simpson has Alien Hand Syndrome.


Blogger Karen said...

What if you were in the middle of a job interview, and one of your hands tried to pick your nose?

You mean that's not normal!?!

2/05/2007 12:25 PM  
Blogger BrianAlt said...

So that's what's going on with my hand every night before I go to bed???

2/05/2007 2:27 PM  
Blogger angel, jr. said...

Sometimes my hand uses obscene gestures, even before my brain tells it to.

2/05/2007 3:36 PM  
Blogger KC said...

The brain is an amazing thing, isn't it? Not that this example is "alien hand syndrome", but I once saw a video of a brain damaged woman who thought she was a smoker, but each time she lit up, the other hand would snatch the cigarette away and put it out. She'd light another, and it would get snatched. This went on and on. It was weird and funny in a way.

2/05/2007 3:41 PM  
Blogger Jim said...

the excuse used at least once by every 14 year-old boy

2/05/2007 5:42 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

Next on Montel Williams... Alien Hand Syndrome or perverts copping feels? America, you decide.

2/05/2007 6:03 PM  
Blogger Grafs said...

Bubba told me about this when he was in psychology school. It gets weirder, for sure.

2/05/2007 8:23 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Anyone with AHS who complains should walk in my shoes for a day. I have ABS, alien body syndrome. My entire body seems to always do what it wants despite my protests.

In fact, even I can't walk in my shoes sometimes because my feet refuse to go in them!

2/05/2007 8:25 PM  
Anonymous kim said...

That's crazy! Wasn't there a Seth Green film like this?

(Love the Futurama reference!)

2/05/2007 9:34 PM  
Anonymous oceallaigh said...

And that was the last Futurama episode. Where do you go from AHS? ...

2/06/2007 6:26 AM  
Blogger Stacy The Peanut Queen said...

Oh wow....alien hand syndome, huh? Don't let The Pk read this post and find out it's a real syndrome...he'll never keep his hand to himself.

"Sorry didn't MEAN to grab her ass...honest!!!"

Ain't working for me, that's for sure.


2/06/2007 7:35 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

karen, Only if you mean to pick your own nose.

brianalt, I really don't want to know.

angel jr., Yeah, I do the same thing - especially when I'm driving

kc, I saw that same video. Her alien hand didn't want her to die of lung cancer, at least.

jim, and if they get suspended for sexual harassment, their parents will sue for discrimination against the mentally ill.

2/06/2007 8:07 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

WG, I bet Montell will have Sylvia Browne on that show to give us more false prophesies on that too

grafs, Weirder? Really?

dan, Oh yeah? Well I have IBS. You should see how I suffer after eating a beef and bean burrito.

kim, Seth Green? I'm not sure. I might have to do some digging. Was the movie called Idle Hand or something?

OC, I heard that there will be new episodes of Futurama later this year!

stacy, You should then attack him with your alien foot syndrome and kick his ass.

2/06/2007 8:10 AM  
Blogger On My Watch said...

how insane! I wonder if they're allowed to get a driver's license?

but there is a cure - duct tape should work nicely.

I would also imagine honeymoons could get a little eventful, to say the least. scary!

(your comment about the alien foot was hilarious)

2/06/2007 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Jacquie said...

Great post - well said. It's really creepy to think about, because it calls attention to the mysterious and unknown behaviour of the brain. I need to stop thinking about it now.

2/06/2007 10:11 AM  
Blogger Pixie said...

Thats creepy, like your hand is possessed or something.

2/06/2007 11:06 AM  
Blogger cube said...

The brain is an amazingly complex organ.

BTW I was going to work OJ into this comment, but you beat me to it ;-)

2/06/2007 12:07 PM  
Blogger Perplexio said...

Ever seen the film, Idle Hands with Devon Sawa and Seth Green? It puts a rather interesting supernatural spin on the alien hand thing.

2/06/2007 12:31 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

Hmmm..... Finally a plausable excuse to bitch slap my work place nemesis and not be reprimanded.

It's an illness.... I can not control myself....

2/06/2007 12:48 PM  
Blogger kate said...

omg too funny... I can think of other areas of the body that have been known to have a mind of their own too... lol perhaps there is more to it than I had originally thought! *wink

2/06/2007 4:23 PM  
Blogger Mr Shife said...

I definitely suffered from this during my teen years. I could not keep my hand out of my pants from around 13-15, and then after that it was trying to get into girl's pants.

2/06/2007 6:01 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

ewwww @pick ur nose! LOL!


2/06/2007 6:48 PM  
Blogger ozymandiaz said...

My hand is continualy picking my, scratching my ass or grabbing my...uh...package.
I also have alien ass syndrome where my ass, without any direction from me, makes disturbing sounds and horrible smells...

2/07/2007 7:51 AM  
Anonymous delmer said...

What's the movie where the guy is sitting on his had and waiting for it to go to sleep? He then tweaks his package as it gives him the feeling he's getting some 'strange.'

AHS might enable him to skip the sitting on the hand part.

2/07/2007 8:14 AM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

onmywatch, driving with someone with AHS would be scare as hell.

jacquie, we are very fragile creatures indeed.

pixie, it is really creepy. I like to be in control of my own hands.

cube, sorry...there's always Charlie Sheen's hands problem.

perplexio, THAT'S the movie we were thinking about. Thanks.

sherri, I'm glad I could provide an alibi.

kate, Um...that's for another post.

mr. shife, That affliction is called "puberty."

keshi, You know you pick your nose!

ozy, Alien Ass Syndrome? I think I have that.

delmer, I think that was on Spankavision.

2/07/2007 10:23 AM  
Anonymous Daria said...

Stephen King wrote a short story about AHS except the protagonist actually had an alien in his hand.

2/08/2007 10:33 AM  
Blogger :P fuzzbox said...

It would be a good excuse for chronic masturbaters.

2/08/2007 10:17 PM  

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