Author`s name Michael Simpson

Life Without Brain - 26 March, 2003

A heroine in Tarantino’s Curdled was so eager to know whether a human head will be able to speak after it is cut that she couldn’t rest until she ascertained it herself. As they say, this is a creative fantasy. But how it actually happens in fact? Is it a true axiom that says a human body cannot live without brain and dies almost instantly when the brain stops functioning? It is known that body of a decapitated chicken can move for some time. This fact cannot be explained with reflex actions, as clonus commands originate from the brain. Probably, the head of a chicken is not so perfect as a human head. Can similar things happen with humans?

Any doctor knows that when the head is separated from the human body, the heart inside of this body still continues functioning for some time. It means that agonies of the body are still possible after decapitation, but it’s generally believed that a headless body cannot perform movements. Once the St.Petersburg press reported about a man who gathered mushrooms in the forest and found an explosive device. The man took the devilish device; and an explosion that sounded next tore his head off. Witnesses saw that the decapitated mushroomer managed somehow to walk 200 meters more, at that his 3-meter way was along a narrow plank across a brook.

WWII soldiers told they saw bodies of their comrades continued attacks on the enemy while their heads were hanging by a thread or were torn off by shells. History tells lots of phenomena of this kind. Witnesses told they saw an executioner holding the head of a just guillotined woman, the eyes and the mouth of the victim were open wide at that. It is strange but the victim’s brain was still functioning for some time, and the mouth opened as if the woman cried.

The old manuscript of the Troitse-Sergiev monastery describes a tragedy that occurred in the Pskov-Pechora monastery in 1570. Father Superior Kornily was the prior of the monastery at that time; the man was famous not only for his healing talent and good deeds, but for his courage as well. He ordered to build a high wall around the monastery for protection from enemies, but he got no consent of the tsar for this construction. Ivan the Terrible was informed of the unauthorized construction, and the tsar went to the monastery to administer his cruel justice. Father Superior Kornily met the tsar near the gates with a cross in his hands, but enraged Ivan the Terrible was implacable. He ordered to decapitate Kornily.

The execution was committed before the eyes of the whole monastery. Kornily’s head rolled down, and then mysterious things occurred: a decapitated body took the head and made its way toward the temple. Only before the altar Kornily fell dead. Ivan the Terrible was struck with the mysterious accident, repented sincerely and made generous presents to the monastery to pray for forgiveness of the sin. The path that Kornily followed was called “a bloody path” and even now it is decorated with flowers. Martyr Kornily himself was canonized.

In 1386, Ludwig I, King of Bavaria sentenced trouble-maker Ditz von Schaunburg to death for rebelling against His Majesty. The nobleman and his four landsknecht were to mount the scaffold.

Before his death, the rebel made an unusual request: he asked the King to mercy those people past whom he would be able to run after his head was cut off. The King laughed but promised to fulfill the wish of the man sentenced to death. The sentenced were aligned at a distance of eight meters from each other. A sharp sword whizzed in the air, and the head of Ditz von Schaunburg fell down on the scaffold making a loud sound. Then incredible things occurred: the body of the decapitated men sprang up and rushed along his associates standing in a line. The body of the nobleman collapsed only when it made 32 steps. The King was shocked, but he kept his word and fulfilled the promise. The incredible accident was explained with the God’s will who protected the convicted soldiers.

There are documents describing instances when a human body could wonderfully do without brain. A baby was born in the New York hospital of Saint Vincent in 1935; he did all things that babies usually do: slept, ate and even cried. When the baby died, doctors were surprised with the results of autopsy: there was no brain inside the cranium. The incredible instance was registered as a scientific mystery.

Scientists were racking their brains more and more over new facts that contradicted the traditional medical canons. Information about new incredible instances was reported from reliable sources and couldn’t be falsification.

Famous German neurosurgeon Professor Haufland described a case of a patient stricken by paralysis; the man was of sound mind until his death. At that time doctors had no equipment to look inside the patient’s head to discover the fact, but even if they had such an opportunity, they would have seen nothing inside the cranium. When the cranium was dissected after his death, Professor Haufland discovered spinal liquid instead of brain there.

In 1940, a 14-year-old boy was delivered to a Bolivian hospital of Nikolay Ortiz, his diagnose was brain-growth. The patient complained of severe headache that became especially painful in the evening. Soon the boy died, and doctors even had no time to perform an operation on him. What doctors discovered after the dissection wasn’t certainly human brain. A giant abscess filled almost the whole of the cranium, which made doctors hesitate whether the medical science was precise at all.

Unlike religion, science failed to explain such phenomena. Otherwise, the basic medical postulates would have to be obligatorily revised. Indeed, complex movements such as walking or running are performed with the help of feedback with the brain. The theory of “abdominal brain” seems to be the only believable hypothesis. American scientists found accumulation of nerval tissue on the inner surface of the gullet and the stomach. Scientists counted that the number of neurons in the “third brain center” made up over 100 million, which is more than even in the spinal cord. They say, it is not a mere nervous joint, but a formation capable of keeping information and even influencing our emotions and health. American scientists say, “the abdominal brain” commands secretion of hormones in stress situations, it urges the body for struggle or escape. However, the phenomenon isn’t thoroughly studied; it is not ruled out that it may unveil the mystery of decapitated bodies that can run after execution.

Oleg Doronin

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