Shortly after suffering a stroke, a patient at a Toronto hospital says he finds the James Bond theme song “orgasmic” as part of a rare phenomenon known as synesthesia.
The 45-year-old anonymous Toronto man’s condition was documented in the journal Neurology. The patient, who suffered the stroke in 2007, said he noticed his reaction to the 007 theme song nine months after the stroke.
“It’s a song I’ve always liked, but, lo and behold, I heard it one day sometime after the stroke and I went for a ride that was … it was cosmic in its voyage. It was wonderful,” the patient said in a YouTube video posted on the St. Michael’s Hospital YouTube account. Hear him describe his reaction to music post-stroke below:
The St. Michael’s patient’s case is only one of two known stroke-induced synesthesia cases. The other is that of a 35-year-old stroke victim from the United States. Most cases involve those who have had the condition since birth.
“A lot of it goes undetected because they have this combination of senses throughout their lifespan,” Dr. Tom Schweizer of St. Michael’s Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute told the National Post.
Schweizer described the patient’s case as “a pretty rich synesthesia.”
The patient said it’s not just the James Bond theme song that causes the euphoric feeling. The synesthesia was also brought on while watching the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics.
“When the women came on from the Peking opera, they were singing in a very high falsetto tone,” he said. “I had the sensation of entering the TV, and entering the stadium and I was floating above the crowd.”
The 45-year-old man said the synesthesia was so strong he “could feel the humidity coming off of the people” through his television.
“I could feel it on my skin,” he said. “It scared the hell out of me. I thought, ‘this is how you lose your mind.’ I was convinced I was going to go crazy.”
The patient said the feelings would become too distracting, and he’s learned how to shut off the synesthesia.
“If I’m driving up …and I get a synesthetic thought, I turn it off,” he said. “I realized early on that if I have any of these weird feelings, it’s just because of the stroke. It’s not because I’m going crazy.”
It’s not just music that would set off the synesthesia. The feeling would come on from eating raspberries. Watch him describe the phenomenon: