Alien Hand Syndrome Basically Gives Your Hand A Mind Of Its Own - And It Might Try To Kill You

There are tons of weird diseases and disorders in this world, but have you ever heard of one where a person's hand attacks them involuntarily? Unfortunately it exists, and it's known as Alien Hand Syndrome. It is one of the rarer neurological disorders, and it can be both dangerous and terrifying when it strikes. Alien Hand Syndrome facts sound like something out of a sci-fi or horror film. The condition turns one of your hands into a stranger; it acts on its own, and it can do anything from grabbing something out of your purse to strangling you.

Cases have been observed and documented since 1909, and most of the sufferers reported having brain surgeries or traumas right before they noticed symptoms. Alien Hand Syndrome has baffled patients and scientists for years, though the latter have started to understand where the problem originates in the brain. If your own hand attacks you, you may have this unusual, but very real, condition.


  • Extreme Cases Involve Self-Inflicted Punching And Choking

    Extreme Cases Involve Self-Inflicted Punching And Choking
    Photo: Harlequin_colors / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Alien Hand Syndrome differs in severity from person to person, but extreme cases have reportedly involved self-inflicted violence. People suffering have experienced punching, choking, and stuffing food into their own mouths. The movements aren't manic in nature, but rather purposeful and coordinated. Behavior like this is mortifying for the afflicted, so it's no wonder they also report experiencing psychological trauma and social anxiety.

  • One Woman Started Undressing Herself Without Being Aware Of It

    One Woman Started Undressing Herself Without Being Aware Of It
    Photo: Internet Archive Book Images / flickr / No known copyright restrictions

    In 2010, a doctor observed a woman, Karen Byrne, whose hand was mysteriously unbuttoning her shirt - seemingly without her knowledge - while talking to him. She had no idea it was happening. Apparently she'd been experiencing AHS since having surgery for epilepsy, where a section of her brain was removed. This troubling side effect was eventually managed with medication, but the syndrome makes many never want to go under the knife again. 

  • One Sufferer Likens The Condition To A Monster Attack

    One Sufferer Likens The Condition To A Monster Attack
    Photo: Sarah G... / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    One account of this strange condition was recorded in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry. A 50-year-old woman experienced Alien Hand Syndrome after a brain hematoma.

    "Suddenly I had a strange feeling on my left side; later I could not recognize the left arm as my own; I felt it belonged to someone else and wanted to hurt me because it moved towards me; I saw it quite big and distorted like a monster; I was terrified."

    She had to be injected with Valium to keep her hand in check.

  • There Is No Known Treatment For This Syndrome

    There Is No Known Treatment For This Syndrome
    Photo: Ostrosky Photos / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Although some medications, along with cognitive behavioral and muscle control therapies, can be helpful, there is currently no 100% effective treatment to correct the hand movements and restore brain functionality in Alien Hand Syndrome patients. The U.S. National Library of Medicine note that it continues to be a "challenge" for the medical community, and since the cases are reported so infrequently, clinical trials have never been preformed.