Alien Hand Syndrome

What is Alien Hand Syndrome?

The Alien Hand Syndrome is famously known as Dr. Stranglove syndrome; from the famous movie back in the days entitled Dr. Strangelove which presented AHS. This is a proposed neurological disorder that is characterized by the affected person’s own hand or hands that seemingly have taken over its own free will or mind of its own. According to reports, this said phenomenon or condition is a result from a brain surgical intervention, in treatment of worst cases of epilepsy. Some reports would also say that this condition can be acquired after a cerebrovascular accident or stroke. The condition is also known as anarchic hand as this was firstly identified back in the year 1909. There was an accumulation of about forty to fifty patients of AHS in that year, but misdiagnosis is common back in the days.


As what most affected patients would describe the feeling of having alien hand syndrome, they could still sense that their hand is of normal and part of their body, but just provides a distinct behavior on its own without the control of its owner. They mostly describe it with a positive sensation of their hands; it’s just that they have no control to the specific action that the affected hand purposefully demonstrates. The person affected believes that their hand has its own free will and is usually referred as an alien behavior; explaining how alien hand syndrome coined its name.

In order to summarize all the presenting symptoms of alien hand syndrome, here are the following complaints of the affected:

  • The hand (affected) provides an action that the person affected is unaware of.
  • It would come to a point of awareness to the affected when the hand behavior catches his or her attention.
  • The affected would believe that they are being possessed of some sort or they would believe that an alien has taken over his or her hand.


The condition alien hand syndrome is reported to be caused by a brain injury or infliction that is associated with distinct parts of the brain. But in general, the exact or root cause for this condition is yet to be discovered that can be entirely supportive of the condition. Here are some of the associations of the disease-process in the damage of specific parts of the brain:

Corpus callosum

It is believed that damage to this part of the brain can provide the symptoms of alien hand syndrome on the non-dominant hand. There is an intermanual conflict, a condition that the hands are directed to actions with opposing goals.

Frontal lobe


The frontal lobe is part of the brain that can control our actions or simply referred as the motor area of the brain. As this part of the brain is affected, the symptoms of alien hand syndrome may be manifested. As what mostly complained of, grasping of objects away from the free will of its owner is a manifestation.

Parietal and occipital lobes

These affected lobes of the brain shall provide us distinctive hand movements that are uncoordinated and described as “alien”. But the affectation of this part of the brain is considered purposeful, even though it’s involuntary.


There is no known treatment for this condition as this is not entirely sought out as to the definitive cause of the condition. The only aim for the treatment course of alien hand syndrome is to reduce the manifestations and to manage the persons’ hand in the hopes to have a full control of every action. The treatment course would include providing the client exercises. Tasks are provided to clients in order to restore their voluntary control of the affected hand. Another approach is done to patients by reducing the interference of the alien hand to behave on its own. The trainer shall provide task for the alien hand in order for the person to become trained with the voluntary actions.


The condition was made known to the public because of the many portrayal of alien hand syndrome in movies. Back in the days, this condition is made topic in movies to portray comedic roles and for entertainment purposes. One of the famous pictures to ever been played on the big screen is Dr. Strangelove, a movie based on the phenomenon alien hand syndrome.

Some theories were presented in order to support the phenomenon alien hand syndrome. This condition, as considered rare is very much putting up some speculation to the public. It has been quite a question to every young mind and especially to those who are in the medical field. Because of that, a lot of study has been made in order to attain answers. These theories are presented in accordance to alien hand syndrome:

  • Theory of disconnection. This theory explains that there is dissociation between the person’s main control of body movements with the voluntary actions involved. It is believed that the execution of the movements is altered because the main control center of actions is “disconnected”, thus resulting to the loss of sensation that a specific action has been executed.
  • Theory of loss of inhibitions: This theory explains that the brain system in control of our actions is out of the hands of the affected. The patient’s drive to do actions is inhibited since the system that is in control of the system is uncontrollable.

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