After suffering a traumatic accident which left her blind, a 37-old-German woman has regained her sight through her multiple personalties.
The woman, known only as BT, had a Multiple Personality Disorder where more than ten different personalities with different ages, genders, habits and even languages competed for control of her. It was while seeking treatment for her dissociative identity disorder that her ability to see suddenly returned.
However, in a bizarre twist, it didn’t return to BT, but to a teenage boy she sometimes became. Over the course of a few months, all but two of her identities regained their sight. and as BT switched between identities, her vision flicked on and off too.
Doctors are now convinced that her blindness was caused by a psychological problem rather than a physical one. Immediately after her accident she underwent a series of vision tests which showed she was blind. Since there was no damage to her eyes themselves, it was assumed that her vision problems were caused by brain damage.
It wasn’t until 17 years later when, after ending a therapy session, while in one of her adolescent male states, she saw a word on the cover of a magazine. It was the first word she had read visually since her accident. Her doctors have come to the conclusion that the trauma of her accident caused her body to react by cutting out her ability to see. Even now, two of her identities retain that coping mechanism.
In an interview with Brain Decoder one of her physicians, Dr Hans Strasburger said:
These presumably serve as a possibility for retreat. In situations that are particularly emotionally intense, the patient occasionally feels the wish to become blind, and thus not need to see.
BT’s condition is basically a more complex version of what doctors used to call ‘hysterical blindness’ – most common amongst soldiers in war zones who would temporarily lose their vision after particularly traumatic experiences.
It’s amazing how we can now be pretty sure how the universe was born but we still don’t fully understand how our brains work. Pretty weird though.