The central effects of peripheral injury
- Correspondence to Oliver Sacks, MD, 2 Horatio St. 3G, New York, NY 10014;
- Received 19 March 2012
- Accepted 20 March 2012
I am indebted to Drs Stone, Perthen and Carson for their thoughtful consideration of my book A Leg to Stand On, although I do not agree that the experience was a functional or conversion phenomenon. This was, however, my own first thought when I discovered that the leg had gone ‘dead’ on me. I asked to be seen by the psychiatrist at the hospital, and he was struck by the co-occurrence of many factors, but he said that it did not resemble any hysteria he had come across. My surgeon spoke, vaguely, of ‘inhibition’ in the spinal cord, although he agreed that the distribution of sensory and motor loss did not follow any clean neuro-anatomical pattern. I too had observed this—in particular the flaccidity of some of my hip muscles and, in great contrast, the preserved and free movement of my foot, which felt very much part of me, albeit separated from my hip by a senseless, immobile and alienated leg, encased in its long, white cylindrical cast.
One of the orderlies at hospital told …