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Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome: symptoms and causes

Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome: symptoms and causes

March 24, 2024

The dreams, mental manifestations that happen while we sleep and that, although it is demonstrated that they are associated with a reworking of the information of the memory and the emotions, there are still numerous enigmas and mysteries.

Better or worse, dreams play an essential role in our mental health. So what would happen if we stopped dreaming? A similar phenomenon is the one that occurs with Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome , which we will discuss throughout this article.

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What is Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome?

Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome is a strange neurological condition by which the person suffering from it experience the feeling that he has lost the ability to dream . However, what really happens is that the patient suffers from a visual agnosia accompanied by the loss of the ability to remember mentally or the recovery of images in the mind; since, according to the studies, REM sleep processes remain intact.


During the time that we are asleep, the activity of our brain goes through five different phases. The last one, known as the REM sleep phase (translated as Rapid Eye Movement) is characterized by intense brain activity. Thanks to this activity we can dream and our brain is able to capture information from our surroundings even though we are asleep.

Although at first glance it may seem that Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome is caused by some type of abnormality in the cerebral activity of this phase, the truth is that studies point to the idea that, in reality, a lesion in the occipital lobe It can be the main genesis of this disorder or sleep disorder.


The name given to this condition is due to the case studies carried out by the neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot and the ophthalmology researcher Hermann Wilbrand. Although they worked separately, each of them made important contributions to the study of this syndrome.

As for Charcot's investigations, they contributed to determine that the main manifestation of the syndrome is concrete the lack of the ability to remember the images produced in dreams. What implies the discovery that the person can dream, but is unable to remember. As for the contribution of Wilbrand, this revolves around the discovery of the presence of agnosias as possible lateral conditions.

Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome is considered a rare condition since it has very little incidence among the population. Although this implies a lack of studies investigating it, it has been recognized as a condition related to focal brain damage.


Its possible negative effects

Despite the fact that patients with this syndrome do not tend to suffer from a serious clinical picture or harmful effects derived from the clinical picture, it is hypothesized that dreams favor some relatively important functions for the mental health of the person. Among these benefits is the capacity that dreams have for favor learning processes .

In the same way, it has been postulated that a complete loss of the capacity to dream, or in this case of remembering the dreamed, can be linked to the development of obsessive states and even to the suffering of certain types of hallucinations. Finally, some theories state that dreams help development and emotional preservation, and that the expression of emotions in dreams can enhance or help the expression of emotions in reality .

What symptoms does it present?

There are two different classifications that collect the symptoms of Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome . The first one is based on the studies carried out by the researchers of the syndrome described above. While the second classification, much more current, is based on the type of injury that causes it and in the analysis of REM sleep of patients.

1. Traditional classification

As a result of the first studies, the symptomatology of Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome was reduced to the following symptoms:

  • Problems of visual reminiscence.
  • Prosopagnosia
  • Topographical agnosia.

2. Modern classification

However, the most recent studies describe the clinical picture of this syndrome based on the type of injury and the evaluation of REM sleep in patients. These case studies were performed by performing tests such as polysomnography , which studies multiple sleep parameters, accompanied by the determination of patterns in the stages of sleep.

In conclusion, the new defición of the symptoms of Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome is specified as an association between the loss of the ability to evoke images or visual memories that is translated or manifested as a loss of dreams.

What are the causes?

In those patients who experience a loss of visual images during sleep, a series of lesions due to acute onset of thrombosis, haemorrhages, traumas or carbon monoxide poisoning have been identified, which is why they establish as possible causes of Charcot syndrome. Wilbrand.

In addition, other conditions or conditions that have a more gradual development, such as the appearance of tumor masses in brain tissue or an abnormal embryonic development of the corpus callosum They have also been associated with this syndrome. In addition, Charcot-Williams cases have also been found among some patients with Alzheimer's disease and Turner syndrome.

Regarding the location of the brain lesions, the damages are located more frequently in the lateral occipito-temporal or mesial (medial) areas of the brain and almost always bilaterally. However, at the moment it has not been possible to find a more accurate or precise location.

Treatment and prognosis

Due to the nature of this condition, there is still no specific or effective treatment for Charcot-Wilbrand syndrome. However, there have been cases in which there is a gradual recovery of the ability to remember dreams.

Although the exact cause of the recovery has not yet been determined, it will depend on the severity of the brain damage as well as the main cause of the disease. Depending on these factors, the patient may experience a total, partial or no remission of symptoms.


Charcot–Wilbrand syndrome (Medical Condition) (March 2024).


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