HomeHealthA mysterious disease – she can write, but cannot read

A mysterious disease – she can write, but cannot read

As a matter of fact, some Internet users seem to suffer from the same symptom.

Photo: Laura Ritchie - Flickr.com
Photo: Laura Ritchie – Flickr.com

To preserve her anonymity, the lady will be referred to as M.P. What we know about her is that she is a kindergarten teacher and an expert in reading – it is understandable that she became absolutely panicky when, one Thursday morning, she realized that she lost not only her ability to decipher her little students’ writing, but couldn’t interpret books written by adults either. All of a sudden, letters became incomprehensible hieroglyphs for her mind.

This wasn’t the end of her ordeal; during the following days, she realized that her thinking was gradually becoming slower, and she had a hard time using her vocabulary. At this point she decided to head to the emergency room, and soon afterwards she received a very strange diagnosis: she had developed alexia without agraphia – that is, she could write, but couldn’t read.

As it turned out later, on that ominous Thursday she suffered a brain stroke, which severed the contact between the linguistic and visual centers of her brain. It is almost impossible to imagine her situation – how can somebody write if they cannot read? A good illustration is how M.P. re-learned letters. When she sees a word, she traces the first letter with her finger, and recites the alphabet in her head in the meantime, until she finds that the shape and the sound of the letter match. At this point something in her mind clicks, and she recognizes that the letter is an M, for example – although she still can’t read it. This is how she moves on from letter to letter.

The woman hasn’t been broken by the tragic illness: nowadays she is collecting donations for strike patients and is writing her autobiography.