Monday, 14 January 2008

Charles Bonnet Syndrome

A few months back I received a phone call from my mother. She was very concerned and thought she was going mad.

A little background. Around 20 years ago my mother lost her left eye. A doctor had noticed something strange at the back of that eye. He was so concerned he had the local hospital do an urgent biopsy that very day. The next day it was confirmed that my mother had a malignant melanoma on the back of her eye. So potentially lethal was this small patch that the next day they took her eye out in order to save her life. Fortunately the operation was a great success and she has now liveed to the ripe old age of 83. She has this amazing glass eye that looks so real that people have no idea that she is totally blind on one side. And that is why she became worried.

She started to 'see' things on her left side that were not there. One day a little boy ran past her and for hours she 'saw' the same boy run past her, again and again in a kind of time-loop. Things then became stranger. She would see things 'moving' across the field of vision of her non-existent left eye. She saw trees, flowers, plants, even her own fingers. She knew that this was not possible so only one conclusion was possible. She was getting Altzheimers or something similar.

When she told me of this I was fascinated because ITLAD discusses in some detail the relationship between consciousness and reality and the way the mind processes visual stimulation. I was particularly interested in the 'Julian Barbour -like' repetition of images ( Julian Barbour has written a fascinating book called The End of Time).

Two days ago she was diagnosed with a psychological 'state' called Bonnet's Syndrome. It seems that far from going mad she is experiencing something that is recognised by orthodox medicine and yet remains completely inexplicable.

A recent paper on the syndrome opens with this:

"Neighbours brought an 87 year old white widower—who lived alone in a flat—to the medical assessment unit of a district general hospital. They were concerned that he was becoming demented. Apparently he had reported seeing people and animals in his house—including bears and Highland cattle. He verified these statements and said he had been seeing them for the previous six weeks. He had also often seen swarms of flies and blue fish darting across the room."

I am not exactly sure what my mother's hallucinations and the case described above mean in relation to CTF but one thing is for sure - what we 'perceive' and what is really 'out there' are two different things. Could it be that what 'sufferers' of Bonnet Syndrome really perceive is the Bohmian IMAX?

2 comments:

susan marie said...

How fascinating, and it certainly does seem to point to the Bohmian IMAX. It must help your mother to have a son who can put it all into perspective for her.

Hurlyburly said...

That is fascinating!!

Kinda off topic - For some reason reminds me of the documentary about that boy who is blind, but using his tongue and teeth to make clickng noises he can see through vibrations! Some scary "Daredevil" type stuff going on!