Return to Transcripts main page
PAULA ZAHN NOW
Mysteries of the Mind
Aired November 24, 2006 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone. I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
We hope you have had a great Thanksgiving.
Tonight, a very special hour for you -- from a rap superstar suddenly, strangely, plunged into deafness, to teenagers who fall into a paralyzing trance -- it's a night of fascinating "Mysteries of the Mind."
First, the hour's top stories.
CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Carol Lin.
"Mysteries of the Mind" begins in just a moment.
But here's what's happening right now in the news.
In Iraq, the cycle of violence continues today. Shiites attacked Sunnis in revenge for yesterday's attack in Baghdad, the worst attack since the start of the war. President Bush still plans to meet with the Iraqi prime minister next week in Jordan.
Police in London say a former KGB spy left a trail of radiation after he was poisoned in an apparent assassination. Alexander Litvinenko blamed the alleged poisoning on Russian President Putin.
And a three-hour standoff at "The Miami Herald" ends peacefully. Earlier today, a man entered earlier the building with what appeared to be submachine gun. Police now say that weapon was a fake weapon.
I'm Carol Lin.
Here's Paula Zahn with "Mysteries of the Mind."
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...
FRED KNERR, WANDERING AMNESIAC: No.
ZAHN: ... of who you are...
F. KNERR: No.
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?
ANTHONY RAYMOND, SUFFERS FROM NARCOLEPSY: 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, an amazing story of one man's struggle to hold on to his memory and his very identity.
The man you're about to meet has a rare disorder that causes him to be suddenly be stricken with amnesia. 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: Welcome back.
We now return to the amazing story of Fred Knerr. He struggles with a "Mystery of the Mind" called dissociative fugue. For eight years, he and his family have been living in fear of his episodes of sudden memory loss that lead him to just wander off.
In August of 2004, Fred vanished longer than ever before. It was a crisis that changed many lives forever.
ZAHN (voice-over): Las Vegas, where some people lose their heart. Others, their money. For Fred Knerr, once again lost himself.
F. 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 would 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 would 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.
F. 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?
F. 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.
F. KNERR: She's the first one I have 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?
F. KNERR: Oh, if it weren't for her, I would 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): Well, 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 have gone through a lot of trials and tribulations. And we are still here.
ZAHN: And Fred and his family tell us he is still getting therapy, but he's doing well. And he hopes that sharing his story will help people become more accepting of his disorder.
Our next "Mystery of the Mind": the story of a rap superstar who suddenly lost her ability to hear.
Also: the unstoppable sleep that grips so many teenagers so strong, it virtually paralyzes them.
And, then, a little bit later on: the controversial treatment that Kitty Dukakis says saved her life, a rare look at the mysterious benefits of electric shock therapy.
Please stay with us.
ZAHN: Our next "Mystery of the Mind" is about a tragic, sudden silence. It happens to thousands of people every year, and the experts are 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.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mommy!
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?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One yellow.
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.
ZAHN: And we now know that a special team of doctors has helped restore Foxy Brown's hearing. And she is performing once again.
More "Mysteries of the Mind" ahead: pain so excruciating, only a radical treatment can cure it. And teens with an uncontrollable need for sleep -- nothing can stop it.
ZAHN: Our next "Mystery of the Mind" focuses on the 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, DREXEL UNIV. COLLEGE OF MED.: She was in a wheelchair. She hadn't walked for seven months and 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 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, LINDSAY'S FATHER: 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 about 20 of the nearly 50 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: We're rooting for her. And Lindsay's mother, Elaine (ph), tells us her daughter is doing well and they're praying the onset of winter doesn't bring on another relapse.
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're going to fall in a position where you can breathe. I could fall in a space where my face might be smothered by, you know, a cushion or something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZAHN: Struggling with the dangers of paralysis and hallucinations.
ZAHN: It's a night of fascinating mysteries of the mind. And this one strikes during adolescence. And makes otherwise normal teens collapse, not just into a deep sleep, but into a mysterious world filled with hallucinations, paralysis and strange sensations that 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 he is. He is into his first semester in college, majoring in U.S. history and secondary education, and he says his schedule does allow him the nap time he so desperately needs.
Still to come on this special hour of "Mysteries of the Mind," the dramatic story of Kitty Dukakis, her battle with mental illness and the surprising treatment it took to finally give her some relief and much-needed hope.
ZAHN: Now our special on "Mysteries of the Mind" turns to an extraordinary woman, Kitty Dukakis, wife of former presidential candidate Michael Dukakis. Through much of her husband's political career, she struggled with prescription drugs and alcohol, along with episodes of crippling depression. Kitty says her despair was so great, doctors suggested a controversial treatment of last resort -- shock therapy.
She writes about it in a book called "Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy."
ZAHN (voice-over): For 12 years, Kitty Dukakis was the first lady of Massachusetts, who stood by her husband's side during his 1988 bid for the White House.
But behind closed doors, Kitty's life was falling apart. She was an addict, hooked first on diet pills, and then on alcohol.
KITTY DUKAKIS, FORMER FIRST LADY OF MASSACHUSETTS: I was drinking in ways that were incredibly life-threatening, and I was taking things because there wasn't -- when there wasn't alcohol that were very threatening of my life.
ZAHN (on camera): Like nail polish?
K. DUKAKIS: Yes. Anything I could get a hold of.
ZAHN: Hair spray?
K. DUKAKIS: Yes.
ZAHN: You were so desperate, you were sipping hair spray out of the hair spray bottle.
K. DUKAKIS: Yes.
ZAHN (voice-over): But Kitty would face an even greater challenge, a crippling depression that consumed her for almost 20 years.
Every nine months, Kitty says, she would be overcome by despair. Alcohol helped her numb the pain, but after the 1988 election, she began binge drinking.
(on camera): Is there one memory in particular that you wish you could erase, something that...
K. DUKAKIS: Probably with John, I think with John, my screaming at him to mind his own business when he tried to stop me from getting a bottle. When we didn't have liquor in the house. I think I'd like to take that day away.
ZAHN (voice-over): After years of struggling with addiction and depression, doctors did have one last treatment to offer -- electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, also known as shock therapy. A type of treatment brought to light in the '70s film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
Once considered inhumane because patients were given high levels of electricity to the brain with no anesthesia, yet in the past decade, a much more controlled version of ECT has made a comeback for the treatment of depression.
DR. CHARLES WELCH, MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL HOSPITAL: Now he's having a seizure.
ZAHN: Dr. Charles Welch is the director of the ECT program at Massachusetts General Hospital and is Kitty's doctor.
WELCH: ECT is nothing more than intentionally causing an epileptic seizure under very controlled circumstances.
ZAHN: Here's how it works: A low dose of electric current is transmitted to the brain through electrodes placed on the head. The current induces a seizure that lasts about 30 seconds, and patients are usually able to walk out of the treatment in under an hour.
Doctors don't really know why it works, but what they do know is that studies in the past few years have shown that patients are overwhelmingly satisfied with the result.
(on camera): How aware were you of the risk you were taking?
K. DUKAKIS: When you're that depressed, I'm not sure you have the kind of awareness that would benefit. But I was so desperate at that time. That doesn't mean that the night before and the day of my first treatment that I didn't think about Jack Nicholson lying on that cot in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." I did.
MICHAEL DUKAKIS: We had some of the same apprehensions that most people would have, but after 17 years of recurring deep depressions every eight or nine months, it was obviously that the best docs and the best medication and the best techniques that had been used simply weren't working.
ZAHN: Today, patients are giving anesthesia during ECT, so there's little physical evidence of the seizure.
Still, it's not without critics, those who think that it damages the brain and wipes out memory.
But for Kitty, it worked, although she has had some memory loss. And for the past five years, she's returned to ECT whenever she feels the dark clouds gathering.
(on camera): If you hadn't done this, what do you think would have happened to you?
K. DUKAKIS: I can't imagine. I just don't go there, Paula, I just don't.
ZAHN: Even with these ECT treatments, have you accepted the reality that you will face depression the rest of your life?
K. DUKAKIS: Absolutely. ECT is not a cure, but it is the hope in my life today, and that's a difference.
ZAHN: Shock therapy does have some side effects, as we mention, including memory loss. Kitty Dukakis says she occasionally forgets phone numbers and directions, but she says that's a small price to pay.
We really appreciate you joining us tonight. Have a great holiday weekend. "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com