A 70-year-old engineer who has just retired confesses that he has had a life-long urge to have his left arm amputated below the elbow. He has the arm removed and feels much better.
Another man loses his arm in a car accident, but still feel its ghostly presence; this phantom limb is clenched in a painfully awkward position.
A third man, a student of mine, makes a remarkable recovery from a coma, only to become convinced that his mother and father are impostors.
All three case studies are fascinating. Yet as I argue in my new book, The Tell-Tale Brain, they can also teach us a great deal about how the brain does its near-miraculous work.
– V S Ramachandran
Jan 22 2011