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Mysteries of the Mind

Aired September 1, 2006 - 20:00   ET


PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us.
Tonight, we have a very special hour, from a rap superstar suddenly, strangely plunged into total deafness, to teenagers who fall into a paralyzing trance. We will bring you some of the most fascinating "Mysteries of the Mind."

But, first, let's get caught up on the hour's top stories.


Good evening, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez. And here is what's happening at this hour.

Tropical Depression Ernesto is soaking up the East Coast. The storm is moving north through the mid-Atlantic. It's leaving some massive flooding and some power outages in its wake.

Rob Marciano has been following this, watching this. Experiencing this perhaps might be the best way to describe it. He's on the Virginia coast.

Good evening, Rob.


Ernesto, for the Virginia coast, has not been such an issue with wind, but more so with rain and with flooding. At this road, at one point, up to our waist -- now most of the floodwaters have receded.

Here in Poquoson, though, this is what it looked like earlier today. This road was impassable, unless you had a high-profile four- by-four. Flooding from the Chesapeake Bay and the drenching rains is what caused the headaches here.

Up the road apiece in Richmond, Virginia, also flooding issues, an area called Battery Park, a mandatory evacuation for over 200 homes there because of flooding issues, and across, down the ways and through Norfolk, Virginia, as well -- heavy rains causing trees to come down, power outages, as much as over 200,000 homes without power -- but, now, in some spots, including this area, lights beginning to come back on -- and also some areas, some interstates earlier today blocked by not only water, but trees coming down. So, it has been a slow go.

Just a light mist now falling, Rick -- most of the heavier rain and the heavy flooding out of the way here in Eastern Virginia.

SANCHEZ: All right.

MARCIANO: Back to you.

SANCHEZ: Thank you, Rob Marciano.

That's the situation there on the ground. Now let's take a look at what the storm is doing and where it possibly might be going.

Jacqui Jeras is at the CNN Weather Center, following that for us.

Jacqui, pick it up.


The worst of the weather right now is moving on to the Jersey coast and over towards Delaware here, extremely heavy rainfall, with sustained winds in the mid-30-mile-per-hour range. This is moving up to the north. And we are going to continue to see problems with flooding in the mid-Atlantic states, basically, a washout of a weekend into the Northeast -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: All right. Thanks a lot, Jacqui. Thanks so much.

You can stay with CNN, of course, for the very latest on both of the storms that we have been following, the one on the East Coast and the West Coast, as well.

Now back to PAULA ZAHN NOW and the "Mysteries of the Mind."

I'm Rick Sanchez.


ZAHN (voice-over): Tonight: a journey deep inside some of the most fascinating "Mysteries of the Mind."

Imagine wandering for thousands of miles, forgetting who you are, even who you love.

(on camera): And nothing was triggering any real memories of...


ZAHN: ... of who you are...


ZAHN: ... where you came from?

(voice-over): The fight against a mysterious amnesia that comes again and again.

The trance: What makes these teens lapse into a paralyzing sleep, a nightmare from which they can't awaken? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just kind of like that bad dream where you can't move and you can't scream.

ZAHN: And the sudden silence -- a plunge into total deafness that strikes without warning.

DENA HEADLEE LYMBURNER, SUDDEN HEARING LOSS PATIENT: The panic set in. And I realized, this might not come back. I can't hear what's going on.

ZAHN: Tonight, all that and more of the most puzzling "Mysteries of the Mind."


ZAHN: And our first "Mystery of the Mind' tonight, the tragic, sudden silence.

Imagine how your life would change if one day, after hearing normally all your life, you could no longer hear anything at all. Yet, it happens to thousands of people every year, a frightening "Mystery of the Mind" that has experts stumped.



ZAHN (voice-over): Foxy Brown, outspoken, confident, rap superstar. But, earlier this year, she was brought to tears in an instant, when her world was silenced by a mysterious disease.

FOXY BROWN, MUSICIAN: During the recording of my new album, "Black Roses," I was diagnosed with sudden severe hearing loss.

ZAHN (on camera): A lot of us had never heard about this until...

(voice-over): Dr. Anil Lalwani of New York University consulted on Brown's case.

DR. ANIL LALWANI, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: This is a very devastating problem, especially when it affects both of the ears.

BROWN: I have spent many confusing, agonizing nights crying in isolation, in silence.

ZAHN: It's called sudden hearing loss. And almost 15,000 people worldwide develop it every year. It can affect anyone, even radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh. We know what it is, but it's nearly impossible to know what causes it.

LALWANI: Well, this person's X-ray is normal, which is the most common finding in people who have sudden hearing loss.

ZAHN (on camera): So, there's nothing that shows up on the X-ray at all? LALWANI: No. He has got a normal ear, normal size inner ear canal. The eardrum looks normal. Everything looks quite healthy.

ZAHN: You are starting a big fishing expedition, aren't you?

LALWANI: A fishing expedition, with no fish at the end of the line.

DENA HEADLEE LYMBURNER, SUDDEN HEARING LOSS PATIENT: I started my trip off. Everything was fine. I was listening to the radio.

ZAHN (voice-over): Dena Headlee Lymburner understands the painful frustration of a sudden hearing loss. It happened to her in just a few hours, one August day in 1997. A newly-married TV producer, Dena was driving to see her dying grandfather.

HEADLEE LYMBURNER: About halfway into my trip, through my mountains, I noticed I wasn't hearing very well. And I thought, oh, well, maybe it's just static from the radio, or maybe I'm getting congested, because allergies and that kind of thing. So, I really didn't think much of it at the time.

ZAHN: When she arrived, she was almost completely deaf.

HEADLEE LYMBURNER: And they were really having to scream for me to understand what they were saying, because I was -- I thought I was just so congested. But I just -- I wasn't hearing. I just was not hearing. And I was having to rely more on reading their lips than actually being able to hear their voices at that point.

ZAHN: And then there was the fear.

HEADLEE LYMBURNER: The panic set in. And I realized, this might not come back. I can't hear what's going on. I called my father, and then told him, I can't hear. And the last thing I heard him say was, "Come home." And that was it. The next morning, it was completely gone.

ZAHN: Dr. John Niparko of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore is Dena's doctor.

DR. JOHN NIPARKO, JOHNS HOPKINS HOSPITAL: In about two-thirds of cases of sudden hearing loss, we are unable to identify with certainty the cause.

ZAHN: Dena is one of those cases. She will likely never know what caused her deafness, because her inner ears and their connections to the brain are too delicate for surgeons to explore.

NIPARKO: Well, the mystery of it is that we don't really know the precise mechanism by which the inner ear is failing to do its job to take in vibrations and to give the sense of sound to the brain.

She was immediately cut off, placed in her own social bubble. That is a very, very disturbing sort of experience for our patients. ZAHN: Dena had to adjust to a completely new way of life. She had to learn to read lips, use a special phone. She was afraid to drive, because she couldn't hear the cars around her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, this is really unusual, to have...

ZAHN: Work was nearly impossible, since she depended upon her hearing to produce video reports for the National Science Foundation.

She became a recluse, afraid to be in social situations where she couldn't hear. Her biggest fear, she would be deaf the rest of her life.

HEADLEE LYMBURNER: I wanted my hearing back more than anything. And I was ready to do whatever it took to get it back.

ZAHN: First, she tried steroids. For some patients, they restore hearing. They didn't for Dena.

LALWANI: Here's the implant, right in the skull, with the wire leading to the inner ear, or the cochlea.

ZAHN: Her only other option, invasive surgery to put in what's called a cochlear implant. Part of the device is attached directly to the skull and connected to the inner ear. It bypasses the damage and enables patients to hear. Dena, like all implant patients, had to wait an anxious month to see whether the implant worked.

HEADLEE LYMBURNER: I felt like I was being turned on again to the world of sound, because I was -- I could hear a humming. And, then, all of a sudden, she said, OK. She told my parents and my family to start talking to me and see what I would hear.

And I could hear sound, but it sounded like from the "Peanuts" movies. That's what it sounded like. But I was just happy being able to hear anything.


ZAHN: It took months for Dena to adjust to her new device. But, eventually, it did restore her hearing, the hearing so suddenly stolen by a mysterious disease.

HEADLEE LYMBURNER: I'm happy to say that my hearing has been restored. And I'm -- I'm able to lead a normal life. I'm able to talk on the telephone, as I once did, without any assistance.

OK. Can I go ahead and reserve that spot?


HEADLEE LYMBURNER: I'm able to hear my two young children speak to me, which is wonderful. That's probably the biggest thing, is just being able to hear my kids.

(END VIDEOTAPE) ZAHN: She's one lucky and grateful woman.

And there's this. A special team of doctors has also helped restore Foxy Brown's hearing. She is performing again and will have a new album out soon.

Our next "Mystery of the Mind" involves a young woman who has suffered from outrageous pain on every part of her body.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was suicidal. If I was able to walk, I probably would have tried killing myself.


ZAHN: So, how did she finally overcome the wrenching pain?

And, then, a little bit later on: Imagine the terror of forgetting who you are over and over again -- one man's battle with repeated sudden amnesia, as our "Mysteries of the Mind" continue.


ZAHN: More "Mysteries of the Mind" ahead tonight, including people with an uncontrollable need for sleep, and nothing, it seems, can stop it, no matter where they are. That's coming up.

But, right now, we are going to explore a "Mystery of the Mind" dealing with pain, a kind of pain most of us can't even imagine. You are about to meet a girl who mysteriously developed pain that was so excruciating, so intense, that it made normal life unbearable. Her only relief turned out to be a radical and extreme treatment.


ZAHN (voice-over): In just a matter of months, Lindsay Wurtenberg went from an enthusiastic 14-year-old dancer to a desperate wheel-chair-bound teenager.

LINDSAY WURTENBERG, CHRONIC PAIN PATIENT: I became suicidal. If I was able to walk, I probably would have tried killing myself.

ZAHN: As incredible as it seems, the tragedy that befell this New Jersey girl was caused by a normally harmless nonlethal spider bit.

L. WURTENBERG: It was almost like a stabbing in my leg, like I was being stabbed by someone, like, over and over and over again, and 24/7, just never went away.

ZAHN: Lindsay was diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy. More than a million Americans suffer from it.

Simply put, it's the mind and body overreacting to an injury. The pain neurons triggered by the trauma mysteriously go haywire and cause a chain reaction of even more pain. Experts compare it to a car engine revving out of control.

Lindsay's excruciating pain moved from her right thigh, where the spider bit her, to both legs, then both arms, then her back. Her body became so sensitive that even the light touch of a blanket was unbearable. She wasn't able to walk, go to school, or do anything.

DR. ROBERT SCHWARTZMAN, CHAIRMAN OF NEUROLOGY DEPARTMENT, DREXEL UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: She was in a wheelchair. She hadn't walked for seven months. And she -- she's a teenager. So, she had absolutely no life. You really couldn't touch her anywhere.

ZAHN: Lindsay's physician, Dr. Robert Schwartzman, is chairman of the the Neurology Department at Drexel University College of Medicine. Even with a diagnosis, he couldn't tell Lindsay why this injury, which usually heals normally, triggered unbearable chronic pain.

SCHWARTZMAN: Some people think it's a susceptibility. Others think it's the circumstances of the injury. We just don't know.

ZAHN: Lindsay tried painful physical therapy, dozens of pain- reducing medications, frequent hospitalizations. Nothing worked.

Then, her mother heard about an experimental treatment, something so desperate and extreme, it will shock you. Lindsay's mother decided to put her daughter into a coma -- yes, a coma.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt I had no other option. What else am I going to do? She couldn't take care of herself. She couldn't walk. She wasn't going to school. She had no interest in anything. All she talked about was dying, actually. She constantly said: I don't even want to live. This is just too much. I can't bear it anymore.

SCHWARTZMAN: The patients that we put in coma are intractable. They have failed everything. They have failed all known treatments for pain. They absolutely have no quality of life. I don't think there's a worse pain problem.

ZAHN: Since the treatment is not approved by the FDA, Lindsay and her parents traveled to see Dr. Schwartzman's colleagues in Germany. There, she was given a continuous intravenous cocktail of anesthetics to induce a coma.

The theory is, the coma allows the constant throbbing pain connections from the body to the brain to reset, like a computer reboot. For five days, powerful drugs surged through Lindsay's veins. She needed a ventilator to breathe.

L. WURTENBERG: I remember dreams that I had when I was in a coma, just really weird things, me floating in air.

JOHN WURTENBERG, FATHER OF LINDSAY WURTENBERG: The five days felt like five months. It was the longest five days of my life.

ZAHN: The stress didn't end when Lindsay was finally brought out of the coma. L. WURTENBERG: They told us about, there will be side effects. And she woke up and didn't know us. It just wasn't my daughter. And I was very scared. And then, when she did come out two days after the coma, when she came back to herself, when she mentioned our names, she knew who we were, and we knew we had our little girl back.

ZAHN: Amazingly, Lindsay was almost pain free.

L. WURTENBERG: I feel better. And mom is getting on my nerves.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It looks like we got Lindsay back.

ZAHN: According to Dr. Schwartzman, the experimental coma has worked for almost half of the nearly 30 patients he has sent to Germany, returning them to a normal life.

The treatment is controversial. Critics think that inducing a coma is risky, but worth further investigation. Dr. Schwartzman agrees. He has hundreds of patients on his waiting list, desperate people, like Lindsay, whose lives have been crushed by sharp, constant and mysterious pain.

More than two years after her coma, Lindsay Wurtenberg is walking, going to school, dreaming of becoming a fashion designer. Occasionally, she has a little pain, but nothing compared to before the coma. She needs booster injections of pain medication every so often, but that's the new normal for this high schooler who is thankful to finally have her life back.

L. WURTENBERG: I'm not in a wheelchair. I just finished my whole year of school, which I haven't done that since Germany. So, it's amazing. I feel really good right now.


ZAHN: And you can see why.

Another thing to add: Dr. Schwartzman is working with some new antiinflammatory drugs which show great promise in helping patients with reflex sympathetic dystrophy. But, for patients like Lindsay, who respond to absolutely nothing, the coma treatment is currently the only option.

And Dr. Schwartzman is hoping to send even more of his patients to Germany by the end of the year for that treatment.

Coming up next; a mind wiped clean of all memories.


ZAHN: And nothing was triggering any real memories of...


ZAHN: ... of who you are...


ZAHN: ... where you came from?


ZAHN: One man's struggle with repeated bouts of amnesia that rob him of his identity.

And, then, a little bit later on: the strange sleep that grips so many teenagers. They can't stop it. And it leaves them virtually paralyzed -- as our "Mysteries of the Mind" special continues.


ZAHN: And welcome back to our special.

We continue now with an unbelievable story of one man's struggle to hold onto his memory and his mind.

Imagine waking up one morning not knowing who you are, with no memory of your own life, in a place you don't even recognize. Well, that is exactly what happened to the man you are about to meet. He has a rare disorder that causes him to be suddenly stricken with amnesia and abruptly disconnected from his life. He and his family have been struggling with this devastating "Mystery of the Mind" for eight years.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: KNX news time, 5:33. A new report says, the three biggest phone companies...

ZAHN (voice-over): It's dawn in Southern California.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... getting that usual buildup on the San Bernardino Freeway.

ZAHN: Fred Knerr and his father, George, are among the early- bird commuters trying to beat rush hour traffic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty more minutes, you won't be able to move on this freeway.

ZAHN: Every morning, George drives an hour from his own home to meet his son at 5:00 a.m. -- this because Fred can't be left alone.

GEORGE KNERR, FATHER OF WANDERING AMNESIAC: Something snaps, and he's gone.

ZAHN: You see, at any moment, Fred Knerr can suddenly and mysteriously be stricken with amnesia. He forgets everything about his life, who he is, where he lives. Then, he disappears. He's literally lost in America.

FRED KNERR, WANDERING AMNESIAC: I know that I'm not at home. That's about -- I can recognize that I'm not at home.

ZAHN (on camera): And is that scary?

F. KNERR: Oh, it's very scary. It's very scary.

ZAHN (voice-over): It happened for the first time one October day in 1997. Fred loved being a new father. He had a good job, working for an exterminator.

F. KNERR: As far as I can remember, it was a normal workday, normal everything. Nothing was any different than the normal routine.

TRINA KNERR, WIFE OF WANDERING AMNESIAC: He gave me a phone call, told me he would be home late from work, and never showed back up.

ZAHN: Fred had vanished. For six days, his family was frantic. His wife of four years, Trina, filed a missing persons report with the police, and prayed.

(on camera): Do you remember the sense of panic you had the first time Fred disappeared?

T. KNERR: Oh, of course. He was found six days later in the middle of nowhere, not knowing who he was at first, and not knowing anything around him, his surroundings.

ZAHN (voice-over): In the next five months, Fred disappeared again, twice -- the first time, November 1997, missing for nine days, found in San Antonio, Texas -- then, in March 1998, missing for 11 days. Fred was finally found by an off-duty police officer in Panama City, Florida.

After each disappearance, Fred returned home, and slowly regained his memory of life before the disappearance. But he never remembered what happened while he was gone.

(on camera): So, during these episodes, you really can't remember anything that happens between the time you disappear and the time that someone figures out who you are?

F. KNERR: Not at all. No. Not at all.

ZAHN: So, once you snap out of one of these episodes, there's not an immediate recognition...

F. KNERR: Not usually.

ZAHN: ... of your surroundings...

F. KNERR: Not usually.

ZAHN: ... or your family? So, it could take days for you to get comfortable with your own kids?

F. KNERR: Weeks. T. KNERR: Yes. This has happened a couple of times where that's where it has made the impact, where he's kind of, wow, I have a guest in my own home. And life -- you make life as normal as you can.

ZAHN (voice-over): Normal is nearly impossible for a wife who worries daily that her husband, the father of her children, could be lost forever.

T. KNERR: I think anyone's fear for anyone who goes missing would be, someone could go missing and never come back.

ZAHN (on camera): Have you ever been tempted to walk away?

T. KNERR: He needs me. I need him.

ZAHN (voice-over): Troubled by what was happening to him, Fred couldn't hold down a job long-term. The family had no money, no security.

Trina would go to friends, family, and the police for support and help. But they were often skeptical, and thought Fred was faking it to get away from his family.

T. KNERR: It's more popular to have the police tell you your husband went out -- ran out on you, than anything else.

F. KNERR: They are going to believe what they want to believe. I can't change that. Just, I deal with it.

ZAHN: Trina scoured the Internet, consulted doctors. Fred had CAT scans and MRIs, his brain examined closely for anything that might cause the memory loss. Everyone was stumped.

T. KNERR: It was just a huge mystery, a huge puzzle, that we didn't find out exactly what this illness even was until about the 11th doctor.

ZAHN (on camera): The 11th doctor.

T. KNERR: Yes.

ZAHN: How many disappearances later?

T. KNERR: Yes, 11 doctors, and, I believe, three disappearances.

DR. COLIN ROSS, ROSS INSTITUTE FOR PSYCHOLOGICAL TRAUMA: Dissociative fugue is relatively easy to diagnose, if you are tuned into it, if you think about it, if you know about it.

ZAHN: Dr. Colin Ross is one of the country's foremost experts on a mental disorder called dissociative fugue, the reason for Fred's mysterious behavior.

Doctors think that, to deal with stress, Fred forgets who he is and where he is. This disorder isn't uncommon. According to Dr. Ross, one in every 1,000 people in the United States suffers from Fugue.

ROSS: Exactly why one person dissociates and another doesn't, we don't know for sure. But we do know that some people dissociate quite a lot and a lot more than average. They may develop a whole new identity, or just be confused about their identity. And then usually they will snap out of it.

ZAHN: Fred had developed dissociative Fugue disorder without having been traumatized, at least as far as he or his family knows. But having the diagnosis is far from a cure. It takes years of therapy to figure out what triggers an episode. For Fred and his family, there were more disappearances, six in all over the past eight years. Most were short, and Fred made it back safely. But the last one was the scariest and most dangerous. And it changed their lives forever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think maybe if he had been somewhere else, the ending would have been different.

ZAHN: The incredible story of Fred's last disappearance, lost in the lights of Las Vegas and the woman who saved him, when we come back.



ZAHN: Still ahead on this special hour of Mysteries of the Mind, the real story behind narcolepsy. The constant desperate need to sleep, no matter where you are. But first, back to the amazing story of Fred Knerr. He struggles with a Mystery of the Mind called dissociative Fugue. For eight years now he and his family have been living in fear of his episodes of sudden memory loss that lead him to simply wander off. Each time his family waits at home, frightened that he'll never return. And that fear seemed to come true in August of 2004 when Fred vanished longer than he ever had before. It was a crisis that would change many lives forever.


ZAHN (voice-over): Las Vegas, where some people lose their heart. Others, their money. For Fred Knerr, once again lost himself.

KNERR: The last time was the scariest of them all because it took about three or four days before I found the help.

CINDY DIETRICK, MOJAVE COUNSELING CENTER: I saw a guy that just looked, I don't know a better word than lost.

ZAHN: Cindy Dietrick remembers the day Fred wandered into her office.

DIETRICK: He was a very gentle man. He explained that he didn't know where he was, where he belonged, how long he'd been here.

ZAHN: What Cindy didn't know, what Fred couldn't remember, was that he suffers from a mental disorder called dissociative Fugue, which triggers sudden bouts of amnesia that cause him to disappear for a few days, sometimes even for a week. Eventually Fred makes his way back home to his wife and kids. In his state of amnesia, he has travelled from southern California to places as far away as Utah, Texas and Florida. This time he got lost in Las Vegas, almost permanently slipping through the cracks.

DIETRICK: He didn't seem to know much. He said he'd come in contact with some people.

ZAHN: Actually, it was a lot of people. In his Fugue state, Cindy had Fred write down what he remembered from the past couple of days of his wandering. His writings describe random meetings with a variety of people, security officers at a casino, doctors at a hospital who did a routine medical check and found nothing, police officers, church parishioners.

KNERR: I don't know how many people I went through.

ZAHN (on camera): And nothing was triggers any real memories of who you were, where you came from.

(voice-over): Cindy thinks that eventually workers at a homeless shelter ultimately led Fred to her. She's the director of nursing at the Mojave Counseling Center in Nevada and was the one person who took the time others had not.

DIETRICK: I asked him if I could look at his wallet and he readily gave me his wallet. He had a picture of some just beautiful children. And I asked him about the children. And he said, I have to assume they are mine because I have a picture of them.

ZAHN (on camera): And you didn't recognize those kids as your own? But you did say they were beautiful?

KNERR: Correct.

ZAHN: (voice-over): Cindy wouldn't let those children down. Eventually she found the key that unlocked their father's missing identity, this picture. It had the name of a high school on the back. Cindy and her staff were able to track down the high school, then the city, and then Fred's family.

DIETRICK: I think it was about the seventh or eighth call there was this, oh my god. Do you know where he is?

ZAHN: Thanks to Cindy, Fred was reunited with his family 17 days after he disappeared.

KNERR: She's the first one I've come in contact during an episode that I think had a real grasp on it.

ZAHN (on camera): How grateful are you to her for her help?

KNERR: Oh, if it weren't for her, I'd probably still be out there. DIETRICK: I'm just glad they are together. And I hope, I hope there's treatment. I hope we can learn that there's treatment. Because that has got to be devastating for families.

ZAHN (voice-over): This experience shook Fred so deeply that he has finally committed to the intense therapy to discover the cause of his sudden wandering amnesia.

Until he and psychologists find that answer, Fred has taken extensive, and some might consider extreme measures, to make sure he never gets lost again. Fred always carries these well-worn photos that identify him and his family. He installed a tracking device in his car. More importantly, Fred is never left alone. His father is with him all day long. When he gets home, the family is in charge. Trina watches him and when she has to go to night school, the kids take over.

T. KNERR: They know when daddy watches them, they kind of help watch out for daddy, just like any other family, you watch out for your loved ones. Life is as normal as we can make it for them.

ZAHN: But there's nothing normal about the most drastic measure Fred has taken: Getting a tattoo which tells the world about his condition.

T. KNERR: This is a medical symbol. Basically, the same symbol you find on any medic alert bracelet.

ZAHN: But this bracelet will never come off. So if he's lost, all of Fred Knerr's vital information is literally at his fingertips. So that once again, he can safely find his way home.

(on camera): When you reflect on everything that's happened to you during these six episodes, what do you focus on? What do you think about?

F. KNERR: The most important thing is how lucky I am that she is still around and has stuck by me through all this. Because I don't know how many women would.

ZAHN: What's held the two of you together, Trina?

T. KNERR: We love each other. And we stand by each other's side. And we've gone through a lot of trials and tribulations. And we are still here.


ZAHN: And even with that amazing devotion, Fred and his family, of course, struggle every day. But he hopes that sharing his story will help society become more accepting of this mental disorder. And he also hopes it will lead his insurance company to change their policy and help pay for his treatments.

Our next "Mystery of the Mind" features teenagers fighting the unstoppable urge to sleep. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably the scariest thing is falling to the ground and not being totally sure that you are going to fall in a position where you can breathe. I could fall in a space where my face might be smothered by a cushion or something.


ZAHN: The challenge of the dangers of paralysis and hallucinations. The truth behind narcolepsy, when we come back.

SANCHEZ: Hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez, and here's what's happening at this hour.

Close to 400,000 customers are without electricity tonight in the wake of Tropical Depression Ernesto. The storm dumped enormous amounts of rain on the Carolinas and Virginia, and it's now aiming toward Maryland, Pennsylvania and western New York.

So far, the storm is being blamed for four deaths. Let's get an update now on where Ernesto might be heading and what its route looks like. Let's do that by going over to CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. Jacqui, what have you got?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Hey, Rick. It's heading northward and will continue to flank the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states right through the weekend. The worst of the conditions are moving in onshore around Atlantic City, also over towards Dover, Delaware. The winds very strong, sustained at 32 miles per hour. Not a good night for travel. And watch out for those flooded roads. Looking at around 20 mile-per-hour sustained winds around the Baltimore area.

The worst of the flooding anticipated to be from what we have already seen in parts of North Carolina. That will extend on up into Maryland and even into New Jersey. But it looks like most of Pennsylvania, especially western parts of the state and into the Ohio River valley, are going to come out relatively OK.

The latest with Hurricane John now, it's bearing down on Baja, California. The eye wall itself is making landfall, sparing Cabo San Lucas from the worst of the storm. However, they have seen terrible conditions on and off throughout the afternoon and evening. And we have pictures to show you. Of course, thousands of tourists have been holed up in their hotel and motel rooms all afternoon long as those strong waves, winds and thunderstorm squall lines have been pushing through the area.

John will continue to make landfall over the Baja Peninsula and then make its way back towards the Pacific Ocean. Just a little bit of potential, by the way, Rick, for the remnants of this to bring some rain into the southwest late this weekend.

SANCHEZ: Two storms, two different personalities. Jacqui Jeras, we thank you for the report. Today in Baghdad, Iraqis pulled bodies from the rubble of attacks that killed more than 60 people last night. As they did so, the Pentagon issued a report today saying that sectarian violence is spreading with conditions that could lead to, key words here, of course, civil war. The military's quarterly progress report notes a 15 percent jump in attacks and a 51 percent increase in Iraqi casualties.

If you have silver fillings in your teeth, you are going to want to hear about this one. Federal health researchers now say silver fillings are not dangerous, even though they are 50 percent mercury, which is, as many of you know, highly toxic. The Food and Drug Administration reviewed 34 recent studies and found nothing to change current wisdom that silver fillings are OK. But some consumer groups disagree and plan to ask the FDA to ban silver fillings for pregnant women anyway.

Let's take a business break look now. The unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent last month, down from a five-month high in July. Now, that's helped stocks. And a week with gains all around. The Dow Industrials were up 83 points. Nasdaq was up 9. S&P gained 7.

As for our "Crude Awakenings," our daily look at gas prices across the country, looks like this. States with today's highest prices are in red and the lowest in green. Looks like Hawaii's the winner there. The average today for a gallon of unleaded, $2.76.

Trend, by the way, as you can see, for now, on the way down.

PAULA ZAHN NOW, "Mysteries of the Mind," returns after this break. I'm Rick Sanchez.


ZAHN: Welcome back. We are bringing you some of the most compelling "Mysteries of the Mind" tonight. And this one strikes during adolescence and makes otherwise normal teenagers collapse -- not just into a deep sleep, but into a mysterious netherworld, a world filled with hallucination, paralysis, and strange sensations that strike without warning, linger without a cure, and can last a lifetime.


ZAHN (voice-over): An insatiable need for sleep. Sudden episodes of paralysis. Vivid hallucinations. This is the life of a narcoleptic.

ANTHONY RAYMOND, SUFFERS FROM NARCOLEPSY: I don't really even remember a whole lot of my sophomore year just because I slept so much through my classes.

ZAHN: Anthony Raymond was your normal high school kid who loved acting and the theater.

Then his life mysteriously started to change. RAYMOND: I just started feeling sleepy throughout the day. I didn't think much of it. I just thought it was some weird puberty thing.

ZAHN: Occasional daily naps turned into a constant need for sleep that he could never satisfy.

RAYMOND: I was sleeping every chance I could get. In addition, I started experiencing these other weird symptoms like sleep paralysis at night.

ZAHN (on camera): And what is it exactly?

RAYMOND: I'll be laying down, and all of a sudden I can't move any part of my body. And usually what will accompany this are these hallucinations, which not only do I see things and hear things, but I also feel things. I can remember one time being completely paralyzed and feeling a fox kind of crawl under my back.

ZAHN: Can you scream when you are paralyzed like that?

RAYMOND: No. I can't scream.

ZAHN: You can't move your body at all?

RAYMOND: But eventually I break out of it and I will scream or something.

ZAHN (voice-over): And then there's the most difficult and potentially dangerous symptom of narcolepsy, cataplexy. At any given moment Anthony would collapse. He would be paralyzed for minutes at a time.

RAYMOND: Probably the scariest thing is falling to the ground and not being totally sure that you are going to fall in a position where you can breathe. I could fall in a space where my face might be smothered by a cushion or something.

ZAHN: In extreme cases, like this scottish girl, it can happen more than 45 times a day, usually brought on by emotional excitement like laughing, anger or surprise. Experts estimate that at least half of narcoleptics have cataplexy.

For Anthony, these sometimes daily episodes make driving, working, and dating nearly impossible.

RAYMOND: It starts in the neck and the tongue, unable to move those parts. And then it goes to the legs and then eventually, you can't move anything.

ZAHN (on camera): And there's nothing you can do to pull yourself out of it?

RAYMOND: Nothing I can do except wait. I can try really hard to move and every now and then, I'll gain just enough strength that I might be able to jerk my arm up or something. ZAHN: And are you consciously thinking I'm going to ride this out for another minute?

RAYMOND: Yes, it's just kind of like that bad dream where you can't move, and you can't scream.

DR. EMMANUEL MIGNOT, STANFORD CTR. FOR NARCOLEPSY: Anthony's was really a classical case when he came to me.

ZAHN (voice-over): Dr. Emmanuel Mignot is Anthony's doctor and the director of Center fo rNarcolepsy at Stanford University. He says that despite all the sleep Anthony gets, he's never well rested.

MIGNOT: They are exhausted all the time. They take little naps, they feel better. But then after one hour or two hours, it just starts again. And at night the same thing. Just exhausted and they arriving their bag, boom they sleep and then after two hours they wake up unable to fall aslpeep.

Basically the cause of narcolepsy is very simple.

ZAHN: Narcoleptics can't produce a brain chemical called Hypocretin. Normally it helps you stay awake. Without it narcoleptics constantly fall it REM, or dream sleep, but they do not fall into the deep restorative stages of sleep. If so they wake up too soon, and wake up tired. The mystery, what causes the death of these precious brain cells? And why does it often happen during adolescence? The other mystery, how to restore or replace those cells and cure narcolepsy. Fortunately, doctors have developed drugs to treat the symptoms.

RAYMOND: It's kind of gross, but it does the trick.

ZAHN: Every day and every night, Anthony takes a carefully- prescribed mix of drugs.

RAYMOND: I have got about 20 minutes and I'll be asleep.

ZAHN: One drug gets Anthony's brain and body into a deep restorative sleep, so he's well rested. It also helps reduce cataplexy, but it doesn't work for long. Anthony needs a second dose in the middle of the night.

RAYMOND: It is 2:11 a.m., and I am awake again.

ZAHN: Anthony also needs a stimulant during the day and antidepressants to ease his constant sleepiness and cataplexy.

RAYMOND: OK, it's now 7:30 in the morning.

ZAHN: But even with all those drugs, Anthony can only stay awake for about six hours at a time during the day. So he must follow a strict daily nap schedule. The first is in mid-morning. Usually in his first or second class. Anthony closes his eyes for 15 to 20 minutes.

JOHN TUCKER, ANTHONY'S TEACHER: If he's sleeping, he's going to miss something but I think he more than compensates for that.

ZAHN: He also has to take a nap the minute he gets home from school.

RAYMOND: If I postpone a nap long enough, I just can't really function.

ZAHN: But no matter what medication he takes, or how many naps he has, Anthony still has occasional bouts of cataplexy. See his bobbing head here? This one happened while he was watching a comedy. But despite all these challenges, Anthony still has big plans for the future. He starts college in September and hopes to become a teacher. With no cure on the horizon, Anthony is ready for a life he knows will be a nonstop, 24-hour game of beat the clock.

RAYMOND: I can live the rest of my life like this. Narcolepsy is a problem, but it's not the worst thing in the world for me that could happen. And I'm still living.

ZAHN: And you know you can handle it.


ZAHN: And Anthony is doing a whole lot more than just handling it. He happens to be thriving. He is far from alone though when it comes to struggling with narcolepsy. The disorder effects about 135,000 Americans. Now in most cases, symptoms first appear between the ages of 10 and 25. We are going to take a short break. We'll be right back.


ZAHN: And that wraps it up for all of us here. Thanks so much for being with us for this special hour. Some of the most puzzling and compelling Mysteries of the Mind. Have a great evening, and a great holiday weekend. Hope to see you back here next week. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.


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