Woman with rare disease wakes up with British accent

Michelle Myers

Michelle Myers

She was diagnosed with foreign accent syndrome - a rare condition that usually accompanies a stroke, neurological damage, or underlying health issue.

The Arizona woman says she has gone to bed with extreme headaches in the past, and woken up speaking with what sounds like a foreign accent.

Rare as it can be, a woman from Texas suffering debilitating headaches woke up with a British accent. As far as doctors can tell, it's also this syndrome that caused her to take on different accents after she fell asleep with a headache.

While those disappeared after about a week, Myers said that she has been speaking in a British accent for at least two years now.

On an unlucky day in 1941, at the height of World War II, a piece of shrapnel pierced the brain of a Norwegian woman known as Astrid L. The injury occurred during a raid in her German-occupied country, and when she regained consciousness, she spoke with the accent of the enemy.

"They send in the psychiatrist at hospital and make sure you're not a loon", says Myers. After about a week it seemed to correct itself on its own, but months later another headache brought about an Australian accent.

In Myers's case, the symptom was a severe headache.

Myers spends time with her seven kids wondering when the sound of her voice will ever change. TIA happens when the blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked or reduced.

According to The University of Texas, FAS is a speech disorder that causes a sudden change to speech so that a native speaker is perceived to speak with a "foreign" accent. In most cases, the precursor is either a stroke or a traumatic brain injury, when the brain regions linked with speech are harmed.

Myers's situation is especially peculiar since her accent doesn't sound like a speech disruption-on the contrary, it comes across as quite refined. Myers also suffers from a condition that causes bruising and painful joints.

"Who would do this for attention?"

"I feel like a different person", Myers said. "The person that I am now have been through a lot".

But she's not insane and she's not faking it, according to her doctors.

"She complained bitterly of constantly being taken for a German in the shops, where consequently the assistants would sell her nothing", neurologist Georg Herman Monrad-Krohn wrote in the first detailed case report on Foreign Accent Syndrome.

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