Alien Hand Syndrome

The Alien Hand Syndromes is also known as Dr. Strangelove Syndrome. It is a rare neurological disorder that causes hand movement without the person being aware of what is happening or having control over the action.

In most cases, the syndrome is caused by a lesion, usually the result of head injury, a stroke or aneurysm in the supplementary motor area of the brain[1].
The afflicted person may sometimes reach for objects and manipulate them without wanting to do so, even to the point of having to use the healthy hand to restrain the alien hand. Some patients regularly try to strangle themselves at night because they were unable to control their self-willed hand. Other patients pleaded with their errant hand not to misbehave or strapped it behind their backs. In another case, a patient had trouble choosing television channels because as soon as the right selected one station the left hand would press another button. One woman had an anarchic hand that stuffed fish bones into her mouth against her will until she choked.

The alternative term heralds to the movie Dr Strangelove from 1964, where the character, played by Peter Sellers, cannot stop his arm from performing a Nazi salute.

[1] Biran et al: The alien hand syndrome: What makes the alien hand alien? in Cognitive Neuropsychology – 2006

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