You must be aware of the phrase – ‘Capitalism is like cancer to society.’ But have you heard – ‘Capitalism is like ‘hypohidrotic ectodermal dysplasia’ to society.’? Unless you are Dr. Sheldon Cooper, you might have not. But do not worry. No? You are still doing just fine because this disease is not a well-known one.

Here are diseases that are rare and thus, are not a part of common knowledge.

1. Hyperthymesia


The name comes from Greek language. Hyper – excessive, themesis – remembering. On combining these you get a disease in which the patient spends an excessive amount of time thinking of the past events. S(he) is able to retrieve the memories from his or her past with no efforts at all. This autobiographical memory collection and retrieval works on a subconscious level. However, when it comes to other things the memory of the patients is weaker than that of average people and they cannot recall enough details about arbitrary information.

Currently, only about 60 people have been recorded to have this disease. Rebecca Sharrock, one such person said in an interview that she remembers the touch of her pink blanket from when she was only seven days old. At the time of the interview, she was twenty-six years old.

This disease may sound like the movie ‘Limitless’. Where Bradley Cooper takes one pill. Then he goes speaking lengths from a book he read back in his college to his Asian landlord to win a court case. The pending rent is then paid in kind. Hyperthymesia patients can do this thing too because it is a personal experience to them. However, it is not desirable to remember everything from the past and even more so to be immersed in thoughts of the past.

2. Congenital Insensitivity to Pain


It is a disease where the patient literally feels no pain. The disease inhibits the ability to perceive pain. People suffering from this disease can see and know that something is sharp and can hence harm them but cannot ‘feel’ the sharpness/dullness  or the hotness/ coldness of the objects. The patient may only feel another person’s touch.

On a bad day some patient can have a staple pin piercing through his or her skin and be totally unaware about it. This disease sadly results in many bruises, cuts even broken bones and other injuries that go undetected. There have been as many as 40 cases registered of this rare disease in Vittangi, a village in Sweden.

3. Savant Syndrome


This is a peculiar disease with a blessing and a curse for its patients. The patient lacks general mental ability but possesses some of the other gifts related to memory or creativity like speed calculation, cartography, artistic abilities in music, painting drawing. On the downside, the number of gifts present in a person is generally limited to only one.

The disease is often a result of brain injury or an autism spectrum disorder. The disease is so rare that it affects only one in a million people. One famous patient suffering from this disease is Stephen Wiltshire, who is proclaimed genius in the front of the drawing and remembering things he sees with precision. He could manage to draw the map of London only after a short duration of one flight over the city.

To put things in perspective as to how difficult would that be, in London the taxi drivers are required to memorize the entire map for the city, only then can they be allowed to have the license for driving taxis. As a result of this mandatory requirement, hippocampus, the part of the brain that remembers the directions and places grows more than other average human beings for London taxi drivers. If it affects your brain so hard, it has got to be something! Not that tough for savant though.

4. Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia


Until about the time Twilight series happened, vampires were not that hot with slick hair and skinny looking bodies with all that veins thing happening. Vampires from the old movies were actually scary to look at with their distinct features like overgrown canines, pointed ears, dark circles beneath eyes and pale skin. Hypohidrotic Ectodermal Dysplasia is also known by its much easier and self-explanatory name, the Vampire syndrome. The disease in real is more than just affecting looks of the patients which alone is not a small thing.

The different looks are accompanied with a reduced ability to sweat (hypohidrosis) which makes the life tougher. The sweat glands for the patients are absent and hence the thermal regulation system of a normal body is missing. This needs the patients to avoid direct sunlight and keep checking their body temperature. It is all a very sad sounding disease with all these symptoms. Michael Berryman is a person who displays the outward symptoms of this disease and has developed a career around acting in negative roles in movies. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

5. Urbach-Wiethe Disease


Having an unusual name compared to other diseases like those ending with –osis like tuberculosis or –sia like dyslexia, the name is based on the people who officially reported the first case of the disease by Erich Urbach and Camillo Wiethe in 1929. The disease is a very rare state that occurs as a result of damage in a gland situated in our brain, called amygdala which tells our body and alerts in case of any situation that can harm us. Sweaty palms, increased rate of heart beat a bit of shakiness is all that comes with it. For the patients of this disease though, all this is totally unrelatable. There exists no fear at all for the patients.

The disease is weird as the patients are never scared at all, be it some haunted house, a person running behind them with a knife on a forlorn road, a shark or even public speaking or being judged negatively in a public setting. That last bit would have got some people to want this disease already perhaps. SM is a particularly famous subject of the disease whose name is hidden to protect her privacy. There have been a number of studies on her which revealed all the above-stated things about the disease. There have been less than 300 cases reported in the medical literature.

6. Hypertrichosis


Hypertrichosis or werewolf syndrome is abnormal hair growth over the body. It can be local hypertrichosis meaning excessive growth in a part of the body or generalized hypertrichosis meaning the expanse of disease is over the entire body. It may be since birth or can be acquired by a person at a later stage in life. The latter case has sadly been reported as a result of some anti-balding techniques that went wrong. The growth of the hair is such that the common hair removal methods can provide only short term relief. Thankfully the disease is so rare that for a period of 300 years in history only 50 cases were reported for this disease. No, Anil Kapoor does not have this disease.

7. Foreign Accent Syndrome


Foreign accent syndrome is a rare condition in which the patient develops speech patterns that are different from their native accent making them speak in foreign accent out of their control and without even having visited that foreign country. The most often cause of the disease is noted to be a stroke or traumatic brain injury. There have been cases of the disease from around the world with the accents that changed from Japanese to Korean, British English to French, American-English to British English, and Spanish to Hungarian.

In some cases after the cure of the disease, the person is left with an accent different from his or her native accent and eventually been shunned by their fellow native people. That sounds sad because just because of the way they spoke a language many other things followed. Their native people did not feel connected to them even though the respect for their mother land did not change by the disease.

You can read about some of the other rare diseases, here.

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