While psychologists, therapists, and neuroscientists are joining the dots between life experiences and brain changes, there are a few cases that have left them speechless.
The first lesson most classes of psychology begins with is "there is no standard definition of normal." Each of us is different, often shaped by the experiences we had in our early life. While psychologists, therapists, and neuroscientists are joining the dots between life experiences and brain changes, there are a few cases that have left them all baffled. Here are a few such individuals whose condition is not yet completely explainable by science.
Dr. P, the man described by author and neurologist Oliver Sacks in his book The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat had a strange condition that led him to believe his wife was a "head covering." He suffered from visual agnosia. This meant he could see the objects in front of him, but he couldn't make sense of those objects or identify them correctly. His condition didn't lead to mistake his wife alone. He perceived fire hydrants as children and had conversations with knobs on shelves and furniture.
While you might be talking to Kim Noble, she might be responding as Patricia. Kim has been identified with an extreme case of dissociative identity disorder (DID), or what people understand as split personalities. Patricia is her dominant personality, while others personalities include that of a boy who writes only in Latin and a young woman suffering from anorexia.
Kim still has custody of her child as the doctors found that none of her personalities pose a threat to others or herself. The one thing that has become common though? Her love of art. From the time she began art therapy, she and the many different personalities she began painting. What's more? Each personality has a distinct artistic style and technic that is evident in the paintings. In an interview to the Daily Mail, she said:
"Sometimes, I can end up wearing five different outfits in one morning. Normal for me is driving to the shops and returning home with my boot full of groceries I didn’t want. It’s opening my wardrobe and discovering clothes I hadn’t bought, or taking delivery of pizzas I didn’t order."
You can find the inspiring artwork of the many different artists in her here.
Once a kind and loving family person, the man doted on his wife and kids. He had to undergo surgery for epilepsy and his hatred for hospitals and all things medical was evident during his visits. However, after the brain surgery which was a success, his personality changed, too.
He became detached and cold with his family and began to show more warmth and affection to his doctors, the staffs in the hospital, and even strangers. He also got a little delusional, assuming his wife was hiding details from him about "his true condition." He became so numb to feelings of his family that when his wife told him that she had been in a car accident, he asked her to "be quiet as he was watching the news." The docs described his condition as "selective loss of responsiveness to a categorical group, the patient's family."
Docs dealing with deviant behavior aren't new to cases of cannibalism. However, Stephen had a different paraphilia (an abnormal sexual desire that is dangerous)—vorarephilia. It is a rare condition which includes the erotic desire to consume or be consumed (eaten) by another person or creature. Unlike the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer who killed and ate his victims, Stephen wanted to be eaten by "a large, dominant woman and then defecated by her.”
Although unable to find clear causes, the docs could trace back this weird obsession to never wanting to be alone. While the docs were struggling to understand his strange condition, Stephen was more worried that he might perhaps be gay.
The wild boy of Aveyron Victor was discovered in 1800 in the French Aveyron forest. Psychologists of the era found him the most fascinating subject. They tried to understand how the lack of human interaction would define his personality and worldview. While a few succeeded in getting him toilet trained, he still couldn't pick the human language. Much later, autism expert Uta Frith studied his case and believed he might be autistic.
A report that appeared in the health journal The Lancet described a patient who saw dragons everywhere. The condition had persisted all her life because of which her social interactions and ability to hold a job were severely impaired. Her hallucinations appeared not just when she saw people's faces turn into fierce dragons, but appeared out of nowhere even when alone. The docs conducted a bunch of tests and scans, which found no abnormality in the brain.
In her words, she described her experience. She spoke about how people's faces turned "black, grew long, pointy ears and a protruding snout, and displayed a reptiloid skin and huge eyes in bright yellow, green, blue, or red."
Although, an anti-dementia drug did help her dissolve most of the visions, although a few dragons continued to exist.
Many folks struggle with anger management. And a lot of us have a few specific things that annoy us for no reason. Like the sound of chalk against the board or nails against the wall. However, for Adah Siganoff, it was the noise of eating that disturbed her to an unbearable extent that she would lose herself in a fit of rage.
The condition, now coined misophonia, relates to the disturbance caused by everyday noises or stimuli. The effect could range from mild annoyance or anger to rage and even suicidal thoughts. Adah is now a researcher who helps others understand the condition better.
A middle-aged teacher had a seizure, which to him was almost out of this world. He isn't the first one to explain an epileptic episode as "almost religious." Many mystics and poets in the past have gone into a trance that ended in seizures where they felt one with the universe. Which is pretty much how this teacher by profession explained it:
"The feeling was almost out of this world. This led to a feeling of complete serenity, total peace, no worries; it felt beautiful, everything was great. [...] Maybe the closest sensation that I know would be an orgasm, but what I felt was not at all sexual. [...] It was almost religious."
Ever had a stupid chorus stuck in your head, the lyrics of which you would never dare to sing aloud? Here was a woman who had a song 'How Much Is That Doggie In The Window' running in her head for four full years! Susan Root sometimes barely heard her husband calling her because she was stuck with the tune running nonstop. Although, the song later changed to 'Somewhere Over The Rainbow' in the later years. Doctors still struggle to find a definitive reason for it.
In 1941, Astrid was injured by shrapnel that hit her brain. When she recovered, she began to speak in a German accent. Although unable to understand the change in how she spoke, she complained about how shopkeepers thought her to be German and thus would not sell anything to her. Back then it was explained as "dysprosody," docs are still not sure how exactly this leads to a foreign accent syndrome.
Watch Kim Noble talk about her experience as a mother and living with all of herself.Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.