Alien Hand Syndrome – a weird neurological problem

Alien Hand Syndrome (Credit: Namco Bandai Games)Alien Hand Syndrome is a rare; probably that’s why a strange, neurological disorder in which a person feels that one of his hands (anarchic hand) is outside of his or her control. This syndrome was first identified in the year 1909. It is also known as “Dr. Strangelove syndrome” as the fictional character Dr. Strangelove was unable to control his hand in making a Nazi salute.

You can say that the hand gives the feeling of having its own mind or being in the control of some outside forces. Although the person feels the sensation in his hand, it works on its own. It keeps on moving around the body, or grabs other things in the surrounding. This hand can give response to the touch of others on its own.


Alien Hand Syndrome - a weird neurobiological problemUsually, this problem arises after some form of trauma to the brain. Brain surgery, or stroke or infection of the brain can also result in the problem. It can also occur due to the presence of certain degenerative brain conditions such as Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

There are different types of alien hand syndrome that are caused by different types of injuries.

  • If the injury takes place in the corpus callosum (part of the brain that connects the two halves of the brain), it can result in purposeful movements of the left hand in a right-handed person,
  • If the injury takes place in the frontal lobe of the brain, it can result in grabbing and other purposeful movements in the dominant hand, i.e. the right hand,
  • If the problem occurs in the parietal and occipital lobes of the brain, hand can start showing uncoordinated, purposeful, and involuntary movement, and
  • If the problem is due to brain tumors, strokes, or aneurysms (localized, blood-filled balloon-like material in the wall of the blood vessel), more complicated hand movements such as tearing of clothes and unbuttoning could also occur.


Various theories have been given to explain this phenomenon. These theories include “Theory of disconnection” and “Theory of loss of inhibitions”.

  • In Theory of disconnection, the person’s main control of body movements is disconnected from the voluntary actions.
  • In Theory of loss of Inhibitions, the patient’s hand works on its own as the brain system that is controlling our actions is out of the affected hand.


Presently, science is unable to solve this problem. However, a person can control the problem by keeping the uncontrolled hand busy by giving it an object and holding it.


Alien Hand Syndrome – Syndrome (

Definition of Alien hand syndrome – Medicinenet (

How Alien Hand Syndrome Works – HowStuffWorks (

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is a sort of entrepreneur. He is the author of "Color Atlas of Statistics", and the owner of an Android game "Faily Rocket."

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