The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

Alien Hand Syndrome a Possible Clue into Struggles with Psychic Ability?

As you can tell from the title, this is a rather esoteric topic.  Nevertheless, I got to thinking about it and I wanted to share my musings.  Here is the link to the original article that got my attention:

Alien Hand Syndrome sees woman attacked by her own hand

An operation to control her epilepsy left Karen Byrne with no control of her left hand

Imagine being attacked by one of your own hands, which repeatedly tries to slap and punch you. Or you go into a shop and when you try to turn right, one of your legs decides it wants to go left, leaving you walking round in circles.

Last summer I met 55-year-old Karen Byrne in New Jersey, who suffers from Alien Hand Syndrome.

Her left hand, and occasionally her left leg, behaves as if it were under the control of an alien intelligence.

Karen’s condition is fascinating, not just because it is so strange but because it tells us something surprising about how our own brains work.

It started after Karen had surgery at 27 to control her epilepsy, which had dominated her life since she was 10.

Surgery to cure epilepsy usually involves identifying and then cutting out a small section of the brain, where the abnormal electrical signals originate.

When this does not work, or when the damaged area cannot be identified, patients may be offered something more radical. In Karen’s case her surgeon cut her corpus callosum, a band of nervous fibres which keeps the two halves of the brain in constant contact.

Cutting the corpus callosum cured Karen’s epilepsy, but left her with a completely different problem. Karen told me that initially everything seemed to be fine. Then her doctors noticed some extremely odd behaviour.

“Dr O’Connor said ‘Karen what are you doing? Your hand’s undressing you’. Until he said that I had no idea that my left hand was opening up the buttons of my shirt.

“So I start rebuttoning with the right hand and, as soon as I stopped, the left hand started unbuttoning them. So he put an emergency call through to one of the other doctors and said, ‘Mike you’ve got to get here right away, we’ve got a problem’.”

The left hand is controlled by the right side of the brain and the right hand by the left side of the brain.  When the two halves of her brain stopped talking to each other, a conflict started between her right and left side which she could not control.  According to the article, some people even attack themselves.

So how can this affect psychic ability?  Well, we know that psychic ability is not a logical process . . . at all.  Attempting to analyze information in progress will make it disappear.  It’s just the wrong focus.  If the actual reception of psychic information is a completely right brain experience, which is then processed by the left brain, then subconsciously, the left brain may be causing havoc in the interpretation deliberately, without our being aware of it.

Here is where it gets interesting:

Brain experiments

The man who did many of the experiments that first proved this was neurobiologist, Roger Sperry.

In a particularly striking experiment, which he filmed, we can watch one of the split brain patients trying to solve a puzzle. The puzzle required rearranging blocks so they matched the pattern on a picture.

First the man tried solving it with his left hand (controlled by the right hemisphere), and that hand was pretty good at it.

Then Sperry asked the patient to use his right hand (controlled by the left hemisphere). And this hand clearly did not have a clue what to do. So the left hand tried to help, but the right hand did not want help, so they ended up fighting like two young children.

Experiments like this led Sperry to conclude that “each hemisphere is a conscious system in its own right, perceiving, thinking, remembering, reasoning, willing, and emoting”.

Normally, the left hemisphere is dominant, but as psychic people, we know that we are a bit different.  How exactly, does it work for us?  I know from many conversations, e-mails and comments that the psychic people I have known are quite capable of analytical reasoning, -in some cases far better reasoning than so called “logical” people.-  Yet we also have highly creative sides, all of us, indicating a preference for right brain activity.  Men in particular, if they are highly psychic, tend to ramble a bit, or a lot in their conversations, which stay on topic while skipping around on the details.  The overall coherence, yet non linear nature of their communication suggest a very developed right brain and somewhat weaker left side.  We need to operate on the left sides of our brains for a lot of the ordinary activities of life, so it’s not surprising that it’s dominant, particularly in a society of computers, ipads and blackberries.  Intuition is just not gonna work.  People such as this woman are experiencing internal conflict.  All the operation does is demonstrate it in graphic detail.  How much is the left side of our brain doing the same thing to us?

The struggle outlined in the brain experiment reminds me of the “no, no, don’t help me.  I can figure it out.” mentality of so many people.  Is this not one of the problems of the Afghan war?  The generals have too much left brain dominance and are fighting to believe that somehow, they can solve that hopeless quagmire?  Perhaps fighting against the better judgment of their right brains?  Perhaps this is the problem of skeptics of all stripes?  Too much left brain activity prevents them from gaining an overall picture of things.  They fight the details while the big picture gets away from them.

All good questions for which I have no answers.  The idea that our brains have two forms of consciousness that can be at war with each other is an interesting concept.  Is the left brain the one that holds the picture of ordinary reality for us while the right brain holds the spiritual connection?  Could be.  I don’t know.  But it’s an interesting idea and having this information may lead to new discoveries of how consciousness works.


4 comments on “Alien Hand Syndrome a Possible Clue into Struggles with Psychic Ability?

  1. Aman Arora
    January 26, 2012

    hi this is aman.
    I am an independent film maker in India and i am very keen to make a documentary on alien hand syndrome. so can u plz help me in this regard. Any patients to whom i can contact either in india or in any other country. In india very few knew about the Alien Hand Syndrome. If any Ngo who worked for this cause please inform me at

    Thank you.
    Aman Arora

  2. Don Salmon
    February 11, 2011

    Hi Craig:

    Interesting post. Just wanted to mention that in Indian psychology (from the Buddhist and Hindu traditions), there’s a bit more complex understanding of the different parts of ourselves that could be helpful here. To avoid using too much esoteric language, I’ll try to translate it into modern terminology.

    We generally know that just within the brain, there are at least 3 different kinds of “consciousness” functioning – that of the purely human neo-cortex, which gives us conscious planning, decision making and the ability of self-awareness (which we share to some extent with chimps, dolphins and possibly African Grey parrots like Alex (see youtube videos:>). Then there’s the emotional brain or limbic system that we share with most mammals – this includes the amygdala and other parts of the brain responsible for anger, fear, etc. And there’s the brain stem or “reptilian” brain, which is responsible for much of our more mechanical, ritualistic behavior, and also prevails to a great extent in power dynamics. (Indian version: the higher two “chakras” are associated with these parts of the brain, though in a much more complex way than you find in most new age writings)

    But there’s much more – there’s a whole new field called “cardio neurology” and lots of research has established that we have a kind of brain in the heart. This heart brain fits quite well with tantric writings about the heart chakra. You may have heard of Peter Pearsall’s amazing collection of stories of people who have had heart transplants undergoing dramatic personality changes. Again, from the Indian point of view, this relates superficially to the heart chakra, though if you accept parapsychology and NDE research the heart chakra goes much much deeper….

    Then there’s the stomch or enteric brain; which most people experience quite readily in moments of shock and fear. It is responsible for many digestive illnesses – IBS, GERD, etc that people have today, as we have so cut ourself off from the instinctual consciuosness characteristic of this brain that it, in a way, “gets back at us” in the form of these painful symptoms.

    And there’s much more – there’s candace pert’s “molecules of the mind” which permeate the body, and there’s the growing belief iamong mainstream scientists and philosophers n panpsychism- that consciuosness pervades the universe. Because we live in a left brain, analytic society we live within a kind of mind that divides this all up, so we not only have your division between left and right brain, but we have the head against the heart, the head and heart in conflict with the instincts of the stomach, the whole body against the world, consciuosness against nature, and so on and so on. Truly crazy! Which I think is what you’re getting at when you describe a sensitive person like yourself feeling pained by the cold, left-brain analytic emphasis of modern life (laptops, blackberries, digital everything, etc).

    Jan (my wife) and I have a video about this on youtube which you can find by searchign “Beyond the matrix: the only way out”, and we wrote a book on it as well: “Yoga Psychology and the Transformation of Consciousness: Seeing Through the Eyes of Infinity”.

    Craig, I really like your site and look forward, as always, to reading more.


    (anyone who sees this can feel free to write at

    • craigweiler
      February 14, 2011

      Thanks Don,
      I approved your post, but never got around to thanking you for it. So thank you for all the information.

  3. Monica
    February 10, 2011

    I’ve always had a feeling I was right-brained, even though I’m heavily right-sided. This is an interesting take on it, though…I never really thought about how much neurological difference there must be between a psychic and non-psi. Very cool! 🙂

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