Hereditary Sensory Neuropathy

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The Girl Who Played with Fire- book cover

I’m pretty sure that most of you heard of the movies ‘The Girl who Played with Fire’ or ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’… they are inspired from the crime novels by Stieg Larsson, a Swedish journalist considered to be very successful in his writings, especially after his death, when his work was critically acclaimed and even awarded. While reading his first book ‘The Girl who Played with Fire’ a specific character described as undefeatable caught my attention. The reason why he seemed so strong was the fact that he couldn’t feel any pain. His body was unresponsive to any pain stimuli. Eventually he dies without showing any sign of discomfort. The explanation behind this is not that he was some kind of superhero who just run out of batteries, but that he was suffering from hereditary sensory neuropathy (HSN), a rare condition that inhibits the brain to acknowledge any type of physical sensation. In most cases a particular gene in the DNA is being affected resulting in ‘sensory loss affecting perception of pain and temperature, and absence of sweating’ (source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK1769/). Despite the fact that this will transform you into a cool novel character, the condition might be extremely dangerous. Death may easily occur as a result of unacknowledged, therefore untreated high fever or hypothermia, bleeding or any kind of disease that manifests through pain.

Even though it isn’t medically relevant, I would recommend you the book or the movie which follow an interesting crime story surrounding the main character Lisbeth Salander, who’s just amazing.

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