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Extra info for The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat: And Other Clinical Tales
The following pieces, extremely short, almost anecdotal, come from the ‘Clinical Curio’ section of the British Medical Journal. Phantom Finger A sailor accidentally cut off his right index finger. For forty years afterwards he was plagued by an intrusive phantom of the finger rigidly extended, as it was when cut off. Whenever he moved his hand toward his face—for example, to eat or to scratch his nose— he was afraid that this phantom finger would poke his eye out. ) He then developed severe sensory diabetic neuropathy and lost all sensation of even having any fingers.
I show her a home movie of herself with her children, taken just a few weeks before her polyneuritis. ’ Christina smiles, and then cries: ‘But I can’t identify with that graceful girl any more! She’s gone, I can’t remember her, I cant even imagine her. It’s like something’s been scooped right out of me, right at the centre ... that’s what they do with frogs, isn’t it? They scoop out the centre, the spinal cord, they pith them ... That’s what I am, pithed, like a frog ... Step up, come and see Chris, the first pithed human being.
The phantom finger disappeared too. It is well known that a central pathological disorder, such as a sensory stroke, can ‘cure’ a phantom. How often does a peripheral pathological disorder have the same effect? Disappearing Phantom Limbs All amputees, and all who work with them, know that a phantom limb is essential if an artificial limb is to be used. Dr Michael Kremer writes: ‘Its value to the amputee is enormous. ’ Thus the disappearance of a phantom may be disastrous, and its recovery, its reanimation, a matter of urgency.