Sometimes, fiction has a strange way of spilling into our real lives. Would you believe me if I told you that werewolves, vampires and blue skinned beings existed? And I’m not talking about the kinds that dwell in forests, sleep in coffins or abduct humans into giant flying saucers. I’m talking about unfortunate people who exist among us and live and eat like us. The only differentiating line between us and them is a gene gone wrong or a minor bodily dysfunction.
The human body is an evolutionary mystery which manages to surprise, us ever so frequently. There are countless diseases and anomalies in our world. Some of them are easily cured, while some are simply medical mysteries, even in today's world. The term ‘disease’ itself means ‘lack of ease’. While we know of the many horrid diseases that have victimized people around the globe, there still exist a few that manage to trigger a bizarre fascination in the human mind. Take a look at some of the most bizarre disorders around the world, keeping in mind, that these diseases are sad realities for a handful of people across the world.
If you've seen Alice In Wonderland, you might remember the scene where Alice drinks from a vial that says ‘drink me’ and shrinks to the size of a mouse. And then she eats a small cake which says ‘eat me’ and grows in size, towering above everything else around her. The Alice In Wonderland Syndrome, also known as Todd's Syndrome, does something similar to its bearer. The only difference is that the person doesn't grow or shrink in size, but the objects around him or her appear to grow or shrink in size.
Also known as Micropsia, this disease is a rare neurological disorder that alters and distorts a person’s perception of size, shape and even time and disorients a person beyond belief. To a person suffering from this disorder, a car may seem like a scale model or a mouse may seem the size of a dog. It is suspected that the occipital lobe of the brain, the one which controls visual processing, might be involved in the onset of this condition.
This might sound like something straight out of a horror movie: Imagine your dominant hand developing a mind of its own and becoming an independent entity. Alien Hand syndrome or AHS is a neurological disorder that is known to occur in people who have their brain’s lobes separated either due to surgery or due to injury. A person suffering from AHS has no idea what his or her hand is doing unless they see it with their own eyes.
If you are a horror movie buff, you might remember Ash from Evil Dead II whose hand tries to kill him. However, in real life, chances of an alien hand killing someone is highly unlikely, although it might slap or grope the person next to you or even undo your shirt buttons without your knowledge. As of now, there is no cure for this condition. The only way to deal with the ‘possessed’ hand is to distract it by giving it an object to play with.
We’ve all seen our share of zombie apocalypse movies and shows, which have managed to gain a cult following over the years. Resident Evil, Dawn Of The Dead and The Walking Dead are a few whose name springs to mind. In real life too, there exists a very strange condition known as the Walking Corpse Syndrome in which the afflicted person believes that he or she is dead, is missing a body part or doesn't have a soul.
Also named as Cotard’s Syndrome, after the neurologist who discovered it, this condition can be fatal as people tend to starve themselves, because they are convinced they are dead and don’t need to eat anymore. Some even feel that they don’t have a stomach anymore or that they are ‘immortal’. They tend to test their ‘immortality’ and it usually leads to suicide by starvation. This dreaded disorder takes place when the part of the brain that is associated with facial recognition gets disconnected with the part that deals with emotions. This inhibits emotional responses or a 'sense of self', giving the patient a ‘dead’ feeling.
Vampire movies have been a part of horror fiction for decades now. We have all seen vampire shows and movies, ranging from the original Dracula, to the modern day Twilight series. Vampires are known to be ‘creatures of the night’ because they cannot venture out during the day as the sunlight burns them.
There is a disorder known as Cutaneous Porphyria, colloquially known as Vampire Disease, in which the patient develops painful blisters when exposed to sunlight. This condition forces the affected person to adapt a nocturnal lifestyle, like that of vampires. Vampire disease is caused due to a lack of enzymes in the body. Rest assured though, that they do not suck blood or sleep in coffins.
Imagine a blood curdling howl piercing through the darkness on a night lit up only by the full moon. What is the first thing that comes to your mind? That’s right: werewolf. There is a condition known as Hypertrichosis, more commonly known as the Werewolf Syndrome, in which a person develops abnormal hair growth all over the body including the face, and I’m not just talking about a beard.
Hypertrichosis is a congenital disorder caused due to genetic mutations. It was first recorded in the 17th century and might well be the inspiration for modern day werewolf lore. There is no cure or this condition as the hair tends to grow back even after undergoing laser hair removal procedures. However, it is a very rare occurrence and only 50 verified cases have been recorded in the history of mankind.