Blind woman starts to ‘see’ after switching personalities

Published 25.11.2015 20:38
Updated 25.11.2015 21:14

A 37-year-old German woman who became blind after a tragic accident has stunned doctors in Munich as she suddenly regained her eyesight after 17 years.

The stranger part of the story is that this only happens when the woman switches to certain personalities.

With more than 10 split personalities, all of which are of different age, gender and temperaments, the woman identified only by her initials B.T. did not start to see in her German body but while in the character of a teenage boy.

Diagnosed with 'cortical blindness' at the mere age of 20, B.T. had also been suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID) which involves 'different personalities' continually fighting over to control the person's behavior.

German psychologists Hans Strasburger and Bruno Waldvogel analyzed her first diagnosis for blindness from 17 years ago and saw that her health records from the time clearly demonstrated that the visual cortex of her brain did not respond to imagery or stimuli and thus she was 'blind'.

After countless vision tests with lasers, special glasses and lights it was seen that there was no damage to the eyes themselves, but damage in the brain was highly probable.

So, 13 years after her diagnosis, Strasburger and Waldvogel took her under treatment for DID and discovered something remarkable.

The doctors treating her reported in PsyCh Journal that over the course of her 4-year-long psychotherapy she finally saw and a read a word while in one of her adolescent male states.

Although at the beginning she could only see words as a whole-not individual letters though- with therapy she became able to read in most of her personalities. Her visual sight improved or worsened according to the personalities she became but in two of her personalities she remains unable to 'see'.

The doctors tie this to her tragic accident (which is neither defined nor explained in the PsyCh Journal report) and believe it is purely psychogenic (psychological causes, not physical) while define it as a 'coping mechanism' to shut down the intense emotions which remind her of the accident.

DID was previously recognized as "multiple personality disorder" since 1994 in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which sets standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders.

Often confused with schizophrenia, DID is still one of the most controversial psychiatric disorders, with no clear diagnostic criteria or treatment.

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