Tuesday, February 24, 2009

20 Strange Medical Syndromes

Doctors have come across some baffling day-to-day ailments, but few conditions are as strange as these 20 disorders, which range from biological to psychological to cultural in nature...

Foreign Accent Syndrome
Foreign accent syndrome (FAS) is a speech disorder that causes sudden changes in speech pattern, intonation and pronunciation so that the victim is perceived to speak with a "foreign" accent. FAS usually results from severe trauma to the brain, such as a stroke or head injury, and typically develops within one or two years of the injury. Of the 50 to 60 cases that have been verified since 1941, only a few FAS sufferers regained their normal speech pattern, although some experienced success through speech therapy.

Sexsomnia is a sleep disorder that, much like sleepwalking, compels the sufferer to engage in sexual activity while asleep. Identified in 2003, sexsomnia has since been cited to acquit defendants accused of sexual assault in British and Canadian criminal cases.

Congenital Insensitivity to Pain
People with a congenital insensitivity to pain (CIPA) cannot feel physical pain, typically due to the mutation of a gene associated with the transmission of pain in the body. As such, they are more susceptible to death by trauma, since they might not be aware of the extent of damage done to their own bodies. There have been around 100 cases documented in the US.

Walking Corpse Syndrome
Sufferers of walking corpse syndrome, also known as the Cotard delusion, believe that they are dead, decaying or have lost body parts or internal organs. In some cases, victims believe that they don't even exist. Like the Capgras delusion, walking corpse syndrome is typically the result of brain damage or mental illness.

Alice in Wonderland Syndrome
AIWS is a neurological condition that causes distorted visuals that make objects appear either much smaller (micropsia) or larger (macropsia) than they are. It's a temporary condition that's often associated with migraines, although it can also be caused by brain tumors and hallucinogenic drugs.

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