After being blind for over 15 years, a 37-year-old German woman suddenly woke up and could see. Sounds like something that she should be happy about, right? Well, in this case, it’s not quite that simple. When she looked into the mirror, she remembered the face that was staring back at her. She even remembers the body before her. The only problem is, it’s not her, because in her mind she’s an adolescent boy.
B.T., as she is known, has several other personalities living within her mind, which can now also see the world that was once locked away.
Seventeen years ago, B.T suffered a traumatic accident, and at that time the doctors diagnosed her to have cortical blindness. B.T. moved on with life without her sight, but also suffered from Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), which is the reclassification for what most people call Multiple Personality Disorder.
While B.T. was undergoing therapy for her DID, and in one of her personalities — a teenage boy — her sight began to come back. At first, she could only see a single word on a page, nothing more. But as time went on, and with help from her doctors — Hans Strasburger and Bruno Waldvogel — she began to see the world that she had missed out on.
Now, all but two of her personalities are able to see the world that for so many years B.T. could not.
Her doctors, Strasburger and Waldvogel, wrote about her case for PsyChJournal. They said it was similar to a light switch; whenever she switched to a different personality that still suffered from cortical blindness, everything would go dark.
The doctors used lights, lasers, and even special glasses when B.T was in one of her blind personalities. The doctors stated that there was “absolutely no reaction to movement or light in her field of view.” After a series of vision tests, it was determined that she did still suffer from blindness.
Just to ensure she was in fact blind in some of her personalities, a lie detector test and EEG readings of her brain waves were taken. It showed there were no patterns of lying, and that B.T. was 100 percent blind in some personalities, and was able to see in others.
Her doctors found it wasn’t brain damage from the traumatic accident that caused the blindness, but something much deeper within B.T.’s mind.
In their paper, the doctors theorize that B.T. had suffered major psychological trauma from the accident, which had caused B.T. to retreat into herself, making her blind. This may have literally been from not wanting to see what was unfolding before her.
B.T.’s case has been the cause of many studies on Dissociative Identity Disorder, and the extremes the mind will go to, to protect us. The brain is amazing, but this case shows that if left unguarded, the mind will take control, and respond how it thinks it should.