With great disease comes great superpower but, who cares!
We all know, diseases do no good to us. Who loves a runny nose and a cough! In most cases, diseases give only suffering and pain. While some diseases are short-termed, there are some chronic diseases that remain lifelong. But what if I say, some chronic diseases may turn you into a superhero! Can’t believe it? But it’s true and that’s what we are going to discuss in this post. There are some rare diseases that actually provide surprising benefits that may even be considered extraordinary. Yeah, there are diseases out there, that basically give you some special type of superpowers. And we are going to discuss seven such mind-blowing diseases. This post is going to be amazing, so don’t go anywhere.
1. Super Memory
H Y P E R T H Y M E S I A
Source: IB Times
Hyperthymesia is an extremely rare disease that gives you enhanced autobiographical memory. Only about 60 people in the world are found to suffer from this disease. In this disease, the autobiographical memory is so enhanced that one can recall personal memories instantaneously without any conscious effort. The person remembers everything that has happened with him or anything related to him in an unimaginable detail. A person suffering from hyperthymesia can tell exact details of any random day of his life, can recite a news telecast that he watched years ago, can quote exact lines from a book that he read long ago. However, it’s important to note that this was only for those memories that are somewhat meaningful to the person, hence we have used the term autobiographical memory to describe the disease.
Rebecca Sharrock, an Australian writer, suffering from the same disease, tells BBC in an interview, how she was wrapped in a pink blanket at the tender age of 7, not years, not months, not weeks, but the age of just 7 days! She recites exact lines from the novels of Harry Potter and tells exact details of any day or event of the past.
Sounds like a superpower, doesn’t it? Not so soon. A person suffering from hyperthymesia becomes fixated on the past, as he never forgets anything of the past. A person suffering from this disease literally forgets nothing. Also the young woman, doesn’t consider this disease a superpower. She frequently complaints of headaches, suffers from insomnia and tires very soon.
2. Super Strength
M U S C L E - H Y P E R T R O P H Y - S Y N D R O M E
Muscle Hypertrophy Syndrome (Myostatin-related Muscle Hypertrophy) is a rare disease or better say a mutation which is characterized by reduced body fat and increase muscle size. A person affected by this condition have up to twice the muscle mass in his body which in turn also increases muscle strength. A case of this rare condition has been found in a child named Liam Hoekstra. He was diagnosed of the condition in the age of three when he was showing unusual superhuman strength for his age. He could lift 5 pound dumbbells and perform all the exercises which were near to impossible for normal children of his age.
This is special condition was first discovered by the scientist in the 1990s, recorded in a cow (also known as Belgian Blue cattle), famous for is unusually large muscle mass. In the year 2000, a German boy was reported of a similar condition, the disease didn’t officially enter in any medical dictionary until 2004.
Basically, Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy is caused by mutations in the MSTN gene. This gene provides instructions for making a protein called myostatin which is present in skeletal muscles (muscles used for movement). This protein actually controls muscle growth so that they don’t grow too large. So what happens after the mutation of MSTN is that the production of myostatin is reduced which leads to an overgrowth of muscle tissue.
This syndrome is transferred genetically. If the parents have this disease it is more likely that a child born to them will also have muscle hypertrophy syndrome. Actually, Liam was adopted by the Hoekstra family at birth. It is said that Liam’s biological father also possessed incredible strength, maybe he also had the same syndrome. And this syndrome was genetically transferred to Liam.
So what do you think, isn’t it a superpower?
This syndrome provides the person more than average muscles and incredible strength without any extra effort. Liam possessed almost 40% more muscle mass than others of his age, and has an extremely fast metabolism, and close to no body fat.
Myostatin-related muscle hypertrophy is not known to cause any medical problem, and affected individuals are mentally normal. However, when Liam will enter in his teenage years his condition will be probably more noticeable, he will begin to look misleadingly as if he’s a protein-chugging steroid addict.
3. Insensibility to Pain
C O N G E N I T A L - A N A L G E S I A
Source: Bright Side
Congenital Analgesia is another rare disease that disables the sense of pain in the body. A person suffering from this disease cannot feel pain but he will be able to feel other stimuli like this sense of touch, the warmth of cuddling, etc. Well, insensibility to pain may give an incredible advantage in day to day life; an individual affected by this condition will not feel the pain of any torture or hurting, the pain of other things like getting tattoos, etc. Even working out will be a whole lot easier. We can also make an army of soldiers having this disease who will keep fighting efficiently without silly things like pain getting in the way. Doesn’t it seem to be a real feature of X-Men?
Well, there are also some negative aspects of this condition. Pain is a signal that tells that there is something wrong in our body. It also helps us to look at the right part of the body where something is wrong. So, it turns out to be really dangerous when the stimulus of pain doesn’t work, as in that condition we’ll not get any hint of the damage to the body. This is more dangerous for children suffering from the disease, they may seriously damage their body while playing. Without pain they will not be able to understand biting their tongue, breaking their bones is a bad thing. They may suffer from internal bleeding and order fatal ails.
Although this disease makes a person insensible to pain, it doesn’t affect his physical appearance and intellect. At present there is no treatment or cure for this disease. Even though this disease is extremely rare, there is one place where it isn’t. There is a village in Sweden, where over 40 cases of cognitive analgesia have been registered. Either the disease is genetic, all the Swedish are planning something big.
4. Complete Absence of Fear
U R B A C H - W I E T H E - D I S E A S E
Urbach-Wiethe Disease is a rare recessive genetic disorder that can affect the brain and skin. However, the symptoms and effects of this disease may vary from person to person. For example, in an American woman, given the initials SM for anonymity (also popularly known as the woman who knows no fear), this disease affected the brain and led to the complete absence of fear. In her late childhood, this disease destroyed both of the amygdalae of her brain. Because of this brain damage, the woman completely lost the sense of fear. A knife attack in the park at night and a case of domestic violence which she barely survived were not able to scare her a bit.
This disease was first officially reported in 1929 by Eric Urbach and Camillo Wiethe. Since its Discovery approximately 400 cases have been known and a quarter of them have been registered in South Africa.
There is yet another way to completely disable the sense of fear. Removal of adrenal glands may also make a person impervious to feeling scared. This is because, adrenal glands are responsible for the release of adrenaline hormone, which governs fear, stress and anxiety in our body. Jordiy Cernik, famous for his daredevil activities like sky diving, was a victim of Cushing’s syndrome, which resulted in the removal of his adrenaline gland in a surgery. He no longer feels the sensation of fear along with stress, anxiety etc. He can do incredibly risky stunts without a slight increase in the rate of his heartbeat. Well, the absence of fear is a pretty dangerous condition, and may lead a person to really dangerous situations that can do him serious harm. But, Cernik is satisfied with his condition and even raises money for his daredevil activities and donate it to a charity. Well, that’s really a heroic task.
5. Extremely Genius
S A V A N T - S Y N D R O M E
Source: Bright Side
You may be familiar with Savant Syndrome if you have watched movies like Rain Man and A Beautiful Mind, where the characters show unusual memory and cognitive abilities. Savant syndrome is more or less related to Autism and Asperger’s syndrome. However, it is found that not all savants are autistic. This disease is caused by some disorder in the central nervous system. Nevertheless, a person with savant syndrome is essentially a human prodigy who is capable of memorizing a vast amount of data, solving complex calculations almost effortlessly. A savant is extremely talented in music, drawing and painting, calculations, photography and architecture. They are typically multi-talented and can be artists, mathematicians and musicians at the same time.
However, the disease is very much rare, fewer than 50 cases of savant syndrome are known till now. A British architectural artist, Stephen Wiltshire is also a savant and people call him genius. Well, he did something amazing with his abilities. He managed to draw a precise map of London after just one flight over the city. Genius, isn’t it? Well, there are other remarkable savants as well: Mathematical genius Jedediah Buxton and George Widener, scientist Temple Grandin, artist Gottfried Mind.
When you ask savants, how they can remember things easily and create incredible music, they often say that they can “see” sounds. That may sound ridiculous to you but if you consider the works of Beethoven, who was probably a savant, you may find some sense in it. Though Beethoven was deaf, he was still able to compose nearly flawless music, similar to what savants do.
Unfortunately, these heroic features of savant syndrome come with the price. As I said before, in most cases savant syndrome is associated with autism and behavioral disorders. Although savants are incredibly genius, yet they can be very antisocial and may have difficulties in understanding basic human concepts.
6. The Vampire Disorder
H Y P O H I D R O T I C - E C T O D E R M A L - D Y S P L A S I A
Well, this one is interesting. Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia (HED) is a rare disease or disorder which enables strange features found in imaginative characters like vampires and Dracula in the affected individual. The disorder results in abnormal development of structures like skin, teeth, nails, hair and sweat glands. People suffering from this disease generally have small and pointed teeth like that of vampires. They are skinny and pale and their eyes are outlined with dark circles. In some cases, hair is absent in the body.
Again, like vampires, HED patients cannot tolerate sunlight for long. They always have to check their body temperature and stay away from sunlight. It is also important for them to avoid hot weather. Why is it so? This is because they lack sweat glands. As you know that sweat glands are responsible for the release of sweat and act as a thermal regulator for the body. Sweating is a major way through which the body controls its temperature, as sweat evaporates from the skin, it cools the body.
The well-known American actor, Michael Berryman was also born with HED disorder. But he used his condition for the good and performed in many horror films because of his looks.
Now you may speculate, from where the stories of vampires originate from!
7. Stone Man Syndrome
F I B R O D Y S P L A S I A - O S S I F I C A N S - P R O G R E S S I V A
Source: The Fantastic Four (2015)
Stone Man Syndrome, also known as Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiv, is a rare genetic disorder and progress through life. This disease affects how our body heals itself. An individual affected with this disease heals much faster, as the tissue starts to repair itself spontaneously after being damaged. You might think, this condition is similar to the superpowers of Wolverine and Hulk, but it’s more similar to the features of “The Thing” of The Fantastic Four. This is because in the process of healing, the affected soft tissues start hardening and eventually turn into bone and make the area essentially frozen. This disorder is caused by the mutation of ACVR1 gene. This gene is responsible for the development and growth of different muscle tissues of the body. The mutation in this gene leads to muscles turning into bones and joints fuse together. Any attempts to remove the hardened part by surgery is quickly replaced with more. Scientists have even gone as far as to say that this disease turns the victim into a “living statue”. Luckily only one in two million people suffer from this disease.
There are yet other interesting diseases that give you features of superheroes, but not actually superpowers. One of them is Werewolf Syndrome, which results in abnormal hair growth in the whole body, even on the face, similar to a Werewolf. Another such disease is Polymelia, where the affected individuals are born with unusual number of limbs, which may be functioning or non-functional.
Again you may have noticed in the title of this post, that I have said that these diseases “curse” people with superpowers. What actually does that mean? Most of you might know the answer. No doubt, all these rare diseases give you some type of superpowers, but they come with a price. Most of them have side-effects and lead to other fatal dangers to the affected person. However, an awesome story can be made about the person who has intentionally become a victim of these diseases to fight crime with super brain power, pain tolerance, incredible strength and an absence of fear.
Are there any other interesting diseases that can turn into superpowers? Let’s know in the comments. 😉
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- Other various references are linked inside the article