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We hate for you to find out this way, but you should know that your brain hates you. Even if you're perfectly healthy and have never had a mental illness or dropped acid, it can mess with you in a terrifying variety of ways.

And some of them are downright diabolical.

5
Exploding Head Syndrome

What Is It?

It's a typical night. You've just set aside your glass of scotch and are reclining in bed next to yet another nameless groupie you've just had acrobatic sex with. You click off the lamp and are drifting off to sleep...

And a fucking bomb goes off in your head. There's a horrendous noise, like someone is firing a handgun from somewhere inside your skull and then a flash of light ...

... And suddenly, it's over again. Your heart is pounding. You look around the room blinking, shocked to find that your brains aren't splattered all over the bedroom. Physically, you appear perfectly fine.

Congratulations, you've just experienced a random occurrence of Exploding Head Syndrome and, yes, it's totally a real thing.

Wait, What's Going On?

Well, no one is really sure. Physicians think there's a link to stress or extreme fatigue (surely you've heard the common saying, "Man, I'm so tired, my brain is going to fucking explode!"). They think physically it may also be caused by an inner ear problem, or possibly a form of minor seizure in the temporal lobe. But don't worry, according to Wikipedia, "it is not thought to be dangerous [citation needed]."

The noise itself can be an explosion, or a roar, or waves, or a gunshot, or an electrical zapping. But it will always be loud, like pants-shittingly loud, and it's not a dream. We're just barely exaggerating about the pants-shitting thing, too--the experience is said to be followed by a rush of adrenaline, an elevated heart rate and terror (well duh).

It may only happen once, it may happen several times. EHS is usually random, even happening when a person is fully awake. Whoa, what if it happened right when you were in the middle of defusing a bomb?

Can it Happen to You?

It's rare, and found mostly in those over age 50. It's a little more common in women than men, and seems to come along with pre-existing sleep problems. Otherwise, who knows? It's so rare and so random that they haven't been able to document many cases of it. If you're out there and this is happening to you every night, there's probably someone with a scalpel who would love to take a look under the hood.

4
Alice in Wonderland Syndrome

What Is It?

It's the next day. You wake up with a terrible headache. You roll out of bed, stumble into the hall...

...only to find the hallway is about a hundred miles long, the end vanishing into the horizon. What the hell? You look down. Wait a second... the floor is only an inch away from your face. The hallway isn't longer, you're just tiny. Your cat trots by, and you are unsurprised to find it is the size of a woolly mammoth.


A moment later, everything is back to normal. We hope you enjoyed your bout of Alice in Wonderland Syndrome.

Wait, What's Going On?

In this bizarre condition, you don't just see everything as if it's much larger or smaller than it actually is, you completely perceive everything as larger or smaller, including your own damned body.

It's not a hallucination, and your eyes are working just fine. Everything you see and touch is really there. Unfortunately, you just became either Gulliver, or one of the title characters in Honey I Shrunk the Kids, or both at the same time.

Experts think it's due to a malfunction of a part of the brain called the parietal lobe, which is in charge of keeping track of where your body is versus all the stuff in your environment you're trying to avoid running into. When it goes astray, your whole spatial awareness goes berserk. Your front door can appear to be the size of your fist, a cockroach as big as a dog.

Can it Happen to You?

Yep.

AIWS can be triggered by all sorts of things, including psychoactive drugs or the Epstein-Barr Virus (also known as "mono"). But it can happen even without that and, in fact, one of the most common causes is migraines.

The bad news is there's no cure, the good news is it always goes away on its own after a short time. Though those words may not be as comforting coming from a doctor who's towering five-stories above you.

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3
Phantom Extra Limb Syndrome

What Is It?

You've just sat down to watch the Ace of Cakes marathon. You rest your chin on your hand, thoughtfully. You look down at your other hand and notice you should probably trim your fingernails. You look down at your other hand and notice... that you seem to have three hands.

In fact, the hand that's touching your chin is invisible, even though you can feel and move it. You can now tell your friends you've experienced phantom extra limb syndrome.

Wait, What's Going On?

Meet the sensory homunculus:

That's a model that demonstrates how you would look if you were shaped the way your brain sees you. That is, your brain devotes more power to tracking sensory data from your hands than, say, your ankles. The brain devotes quite a bit of effort to tracking your limbs and the information gained from them. For instance, it knows how close your hands are to the woman's boobies, so that you caress them instead of slapping them, and transmits the touch sensation back to your brain accordingly.

Regular old phantom limb syndrome happens when you lose a limb; the brain sensory cortex doesn't always come to terms with that news very well and goes into a kind of denial. The end result is you feeling sensation, mostly pain, in the missing limb.

But then, in rare cases, you get phantom extra limb syndrome. This happens in people who have not had anything amputated and in those cases the sensory cortex is so messed up it just manufactures an extra limb out of thin air.

Some patients have felt an extra arm or leg branching off from their existing limb, others have felt a third arm growing out of their chest. One patient even claimed he could see a third hand. So you can't underestimate how freaking convincing the sensation is. As far as your body knows, you've got the extra limb. Some patients even accused the hospital of stitching on an extra leg (why? To pad the bill?).

By the way, one woman said she had lost control of her third arm and that it was now trying to strangle her. Holy shit!

Can it Happen to You?

The regular variety of phantom limb syndrome, where you think a limb is still there after amputation, is extremely common in amputees (50 percent to 80 percent). The extra limb variety seems to only occur due to some kind of brain damage, such as in the aftermath of a stroke. So, if you get into a bar brawl and some guy cracks you over the head with a crowbar, make sure the fist you're hitting him with actually exists. Otherwise you'll just look ridiculous.

2
Sleep Paralysis

What Is It?

Ah, another morning. You open your eyes and stare at the ceiling. Time to toss those covers aside and start the d-

Wait... what's this? Your arms don't seem to be moving. Or your feet. And... HOLY SHIT! There's a monster in the room! And that bastard glued your entire body to your bed!


"You'd think a monster would have more sophisticated methods of terrorizing, but I don't, at all."

Well, that or you're suffering from sleep paralysis. Also referred to as "devil on your back" by Africans, "the dark presser/assailer" in Turkey and "on the pig's back" by the Irish.

Wait, What's Going On?

As you fall asleep, several things happen. First, your conscious mind is set to low-level functioning. Next, your body is immobilized so that you can dream of doing things like running, without actually running into your bedroom wall like the dog in that YouTube video.

Then, your brain cycles in and out of REM. Occasionally, your conscious mind wakes up, but forgets to include other parts of your brain, usually just seconds before the REM is phased completely out. The result is that for the next few moments, you get to watch the dream, or rather nightmare in most cases, played out as a vivid hallucination right before your very much awakened eyes.

Oh, and that part about you being immobilized? That's still there, hence the "paralysis" half of "sleep paralysis." Not only do get to watch the demonized spider-crabs on your ceiling eat a tiny kitten just above your immobile body, you are completely helpless to do anything about it when they come for you.

But, you can tell the difference between real life and some stupid waking dream, right? Apparently not, since as we have mentioned before, this condition seems to explain the whole "alien abduction" phenomenon, and several thousand years worth of ghost stories and demon encounters.

So yeah, pretty fucking real.

Can it Happen to You?

It's already happened to some of you reading this. Surveys show that about one out of four people have experienced it, though who knows how many more A) had it but didn't know what it was or B) forgot about it or wrote the whole thing off as a dream.

Then again we don't know how many of the ones who claimed to have had it were actually abducted by aliens instead, so it probably balances out.

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1
Random Hallucinations

What Is It?

You're not crazy. You never have been. You're not taking any medications, or narcotics. You're not sleepy. You haven't taken a blow to the head. You're not stressed out. Everything is fine.

Still, one day you're sitting in your car, driving down the highway, alone. It's dark, the radio is off and you're listening the sound of pavement humming under the wheels. Then, a leprechaun appears in the passenger seat and calls you an asshole.


What an asshole.

Wait, What's Going On?

We think of hallucinations as the hallmark of mental illness and they are--but they are also shockingly common in people with absolutely no mental problems at all. It may happen once, and never happen again. And once more, some of you who are reading this have experienced it, whether you know it or not.

For instance, about 15 percent of people surveyed say they've had auditory hallucinations, the most common being the sound of voices (often your name, spoken aloud) right as you're falling asleep.

It's not known how common visual hallucinations are, since they so often get reported as ghost/alien/angel/etc. sightings. But it is known that such hallucinations can include seeing animals or even inanimate objects. In other words, there's a chance you have had a hallucination and to this day don't realize the object was never actually there.

Oh, it gets creepier.

Ever had that eerie experience when you feel someone or something is in the room with you? Particularly in the dark? Or maybe you just feel like you're "being watched." That "sense of presence," the normal feeling you get when near another person, only felt while alone, is another type of hallucination.

Can it Happen to You?

Probably half of you have experienced some type of hallucination, whether you remember it or not. The auditory hallucinations are so common there is a support group now specifically for these people who hear voices but who are not schizophrenic and who don't have any other crazy symptoms.

Now, if you're thinking it would be hilarious to have your ventriloquist friend sit in on one of those meetings, well... be sure to get us video.

Do you have something funny to say about a random topic? You could be on the front page of Cracked.com tomorrow. Go here and find out how to create a Topic Page.

For more reasons to never trust your brain again, check out 5 Ways Your Brain Is Messing With Your Head. Or check out the totally rad things you can make it do, in 5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness.

And stop by our Top Picks to see Brockway hallucinating. Off of drugs. It happens fairly regularly.

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