V.S. Ramachandran’s experiments with mirrors on patients suffering from phantom limb syndromes elaborated on the brain’s role in the experience and persistence of pain – [The Tell-Tale Brain By V.S. Ramachandran W.W. Norton]

I think those of us whose kidnapped children are forever missing know something very personal about phantom quakes, phantom limbs, and such tricks of the brain. A human who loses an arm feels it when other people scratch their hands, and can fool himself into believing the missing hand is moving with a mirror trick.  Japanese people recently report intense waves of anxiety and loss of equilibrium on seeing a tree sway in the breeze. Another quake? Every day in New York, I see children on the train and on the sidewalks. I feel my hand on Rui’s head and face, a phantom. I hear his voice at home.

Imagine him with phantom quakes every day.

His Daddy became phantom, and he, my phantom son.

“Ghosts, be gone! And let the living return!”

                                                     – Thomas Yohannan



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