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Dr. Strangelove syndrome or the alien hand syndrome is an extremely rare neurological disorder. If you have this condition, your hands will act on its own. Though it is usually the hands that are affected, sometimes your legs may also develop a will of their own. You may sometimes feel that your hands do not belong to you if you have this condition. It is more common in children than in adults. This rare disorder is also known as Strangelovian hand or anarchic hand. Dr. Strangelove syndrome was first recorded in 1909. Experts say that it usually affects the left or non-dominant hand. It got its name from Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr. Strangelove, where one of the characters has this problem.
This usually happens after you suffer from a stroke, trauma or tumor. Brain cancer can also cause it as can neurodegenerative diseases and brain aneurysms. Brain surgeries to treat epilepsy can sometimes leave this side-effect. In some cases, lesions in the anterior cingulate cortex, posterior parietal cortex, and supplementary motor cortex of the brain can also cause this condition.
The main symptom of this neurological disorder is that you are not able to control the movement of your hands. It acts independently of you. There is no cognitive control or awareness about what your hands are up to. Sometimes, your hands may also ignore your commands and your hand may also try to harm you.
Dr. Strangelove syndrome has no cure. But therapy can help. If this occurs after brain illness or stroke, you have a better chance of recovery. But if the cause is some neurodegenerative disease, then prognosis is not very good. Sometimes doctors try to manage the condition with muscle control therapies that use botulinum toxin (Botox) and neuromuscular blocking agents. He may also recommend the use of Benzodiazepines. But more than medications behavioral therapies help patients. Your doctor may also recommend therapies like mirror box therapy, cognitive therapy techniques, learning task behavioral therapies and visuospatial coaching techniques. If you have this problem, you need to be in regular touch with your doctor.