In an incredibly strange case, a woman who has never left the United States went to bed with a headache and woke up with a different accent – thanks to a rare medical condition.
Michelle Myers, a former Texas beauty queen, reportedly suffered from debilitating headaches for several years. On three separate occasions, these headaches brought on a foreign accent when Myers woke up the next morning, CBS reports.
Myers, 45, said, “They send in the psychiatrist at the hospital and make sure you’re not a loon.” Previously, Myers had woken up with Australian and Irish accents that lasted for weeks before eventually returning to her normal speech patterns. In the latest incident, Myers was suddenly speaking like a regular Brit for a span of two years. The mother of seven said,
Everybody only sees or hears Mary Poppins.
The doctors examined and ruled out the possibility that Myers was faking the accents or was mentally unstable, finally diagnosing her with the extremely rare condition Foreign Accent Syndrome. This is generally seen in people who have experienced strokes or brain injuries, and results in an abrupt change to the language center of a patient’s brain, resulting in a “foreign” accent.
The condition was first documents in 1907, when a French neurologist named Pierre Marie noticed that a man in Paris was speaking in a local German language after suffering a stroke. In the past century, there have only been around a hundred diagnosed cases of Foreign Accent Syndrome.
Myers did not have any strokes, but she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which causes bruising and super flexibility in joints that allow them to dislocate. This painful condition is believed to be behind Myers’ speaking disorder. “I guess you still have it in your head. I feel like a different person,” she said, watching videos of herself speaking in her American accent.
In 2016, Lisa Alamia, also of Texas, woke up from a jaw surgery speaking ina British accent, as well. She was likewise diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome, reportedly brought on by nerve damage due to her medical procedure.