The Case of the Disembodied Lady

The case of the disembodied lady is one of the most overwhelming in neurology. The protagonist is an intelligent and brave woman, who is known simply as Christina. His case was reported by Dr. Oliver Sacks in 1985, and it is genuinely tragic and disconcerting.

Said in a very simple way, proprioception allows us to be aware that the body is ours. That our hands, indeed, are ours, as well as our feet, our arms and everything else.

We know that, for example, our hand is on the table at this time. We know automatically, thanks to proprioception. In the case of the disembodied lady, this mechanism failed. Let’s know his story.

The beginning of the disembodied lady’s case- When it all started, Christina was a young, 27-year-old woman completely healthy. He had two young children and a well-established personality. She was sure of herself and very enthusiastic. I practiced hockey and horse riding.

In addition, I was a systems programmer and worked at home. His background indicated that he had not been ill, practically never. One day he had a very strong abdominal pain.

That led her to a medical consultation, in which she discovered some stones in the gallbladder. He was advised to have surgery to remove that organ. The procedure was simple and did not merit further concern.

Christina was admitted to the hospital three days before surgery. He was prepared for the procedure using antibiotics, as usual. Everything was going as planned, but one day before the operation she had a pretty vivid dream that disturbed her remarkably. He dreamed that his body was shaking, that he was shaking and that he was not able to stand on his feet. She had never had such a vivid dream and this distressed her.

An unusual situation
The strangest thing happened shortly after: the dream began to come true. Christina began to feel that she lost control over her body. He could not stand, his movements were clumsy and sometimes inexplicable. He also didn’t have the strength and that’s why things fell out of his hands. He went to the psychiatrist, who established that it was a psychological reaction to the anguish of surgery.

With the hours, Christina’s situation worsened. This caught the attention of neurologists, in particular, Oliver Sacks. Especially after the young woman said a phrase that seemed to express an unusual situation. She said: “ I don’t feel the body. I feel weird… disembodied. ” This led them to think that there was more to the situation than a symptom of anguish.

Thus, they made a series of sensory tests. That was how it was found that Christina had lost proprioception. Technically it was a case of “polyneuritis.”

There was a strange disconnection in his body. In simple words, his body did not recognize himself. He acted as self-employed. She looked for one of her hands and found her in a place and in a position she had not voluntarily taken.

The being and doing
Such a situation was very strange and dramatic. The case of the disembodied lady was the first recorded in her gender. What to do when one feels that one’s body is not there, that it does not follow the orders that one gives it, but that it is an entity separated from the rest of the “I”? The worst part was that science could not say why it had happened, nor if it was possible to reverse it.

There was a clue. Patients in more or less similar states achieved some control over their bodies through their eyes. That is, if they looked at his hand, they could also direct it. The moment they stopped seeing her, the hand was on its own. Likewise, the lack of proprioception affected speech. However, thanks to the action of the ear it was also possible to exercise some kind of control and recover it.

That was what Christina did during the following year. He was able to move and talk again, albeit in a “strange” way, artificial. He managed to become functional again, but he found it impossible to feel again that his body was really his. After the case of the disembodied lady, similar ones have been reported, but they are still very few and completely enigmatic.