Paradoxical undressing is a term for a phenomenon frequently seen in cases of lethal hypothermia. Shortly before death, the person will remove all their clothes, as if they were burning up, when in fact they are freezing. Because of this, people who have frozen to death are often found naked and are misidentified as victims of a violent crime. Why does this happen? According to M.A. Rothschild and V. Schneider, writing in the International Journal of Legal Medicine:
The reason for this paradoxical behaviour seems to be the effect of a cold-induced paralysis of the nerves in the vessel walls, which leads to a vasodilatation, giving a feeling of warmth. Another theory proposes that the reflex vasoconstriction, which happens in the first stage of hypothermia leads to paralysis of the vasomotor center giving rise to the sensation that the body temperature is higher than it really is and in a paradox reaction the person undresses.
But wait! It gets even weirder. Once they've undressed, the dying person will frequently try to crawl into a small, enclosed space. For which reason, victims of hypothermia are often found naked, squeezed into cupboards or beneath beds. This is called Terminal Burrowing Behavior. Again from Rothschild and Schneider:
In 20% of our cases of death due to hypothermia the bodies were found in a position, which at first induced the suspicion of an attempt to hide the body. But after all our examinations together with the police investigations it was clear that no other person was involved. Obviously the strange positions in which the bodies had been found, were the result of a (pre-)terminal behaviour, which - for lack of comparable descriptions in the literature - we have called "terminal burrowing behaviour". The discovery positions always gave the impression of a protective burrow-like or cave-like situation, as the bodies were found under the bed, behind the wardrobe, in a shelf etc.. The clothes of the bodies were always strewn on the ground in front of the final position, sometimes forming a trail. In every case the paradoxical undressing had obviously happened before this self-protective "burrowing behaviour". This is sustained by the fact that the removed clothing was never found at the final position where the body was found, and some of the victims due to cooling had obviously been crawling around. In most cases the final position in which the bodies were found could only be reached by crawling on all fours or flat on the body, resulting in abrasions to the knees, elbows, etc. This crawling to the final position seems to have happened after undressing as there were abrasions to the skin but no damage to the corresponding parts of the removed clothing.
How did those SEAL snipers get clean shots in turbulent waters? The professional artillery devices to gauge variables of wind, humidity, etc., run $2k-$7k, but (seriously) there's an iPhone app for $12, and you can hook it up to your rifle with about $90 worth of hardware. StrategyPage.com
Carl Spackler Lives: Spokane, Wash., plans to detonate ground squirrels. KOMO-TV (Seattle)
To show how tough Russians are, it says here that this guy has a twig growing inside his lung. Novosti (Russian News and Information Agency)
His main problem? "I tried to find someone who would love me for me," Thomas Frazier told the judge at his child-support hearing (14 kids by 13 mothers, $530k in arrears). Flint Journal (Flint, Mich.)
She was just 10 yrs old when she was killed, but she liked to drive that all-terrain vehicle, even on the terrain of U.S. 65 near Sedalia, Mo., right into the path of a pickup truck (against whose driver no charges were filed) so naturally the girl's parents are suing the guy. Associated Press via Columbia Missourian
An Austrian architect said he wanted to see what it was like to be surrounded by blue and so painted his house inside and out with a particularly ugly shade of blue. The Sun (London) [Of course there's a photo!]
What recession? A Texas man shelled out $1,500 to own the molds that an oral surgeon made of the upper and lower teeth of . . Tiny Tim. Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, Mass.)
Well, this recession: A Wisconsin health-care provider laid off 90 people (mostly admin and staff people, but it did include one operating-room nurse being escorted out of the building . . during an operation). Wisconsin State Journal
[Jury Duty] We all have needs, so it's possible that Asia Marie Howard and William Walter Stephens are guilty of a "crime against nature" (as they say in North Carolina). Gaston Gazette
Today's Newsrangers: Emory Kimbrough, Ron Crumpton, Joe Schlegel
You say your child was kidnapped? Sorry, but that means you may no longer be able to claim him as a dependent on your taxes. Topic 357 of the tax code provides guidelines for this situation:
You may claim a kidnapped child as your dependent if the following requirements are met:
1. The child must be presumed by law enforcement to have been kidnapped by someone who is not a member of your family or a member of the child's family, and
2. The child had, for the taxable year in which the kidnapping occurred, the same principal place of abode as the taxpayer for more than one-half of the portion of such year before the date of kidnapping.
If both of these requirements are met, the child may meet the requirements for purposes of determining:
* The dependency exemption
* The child tax credit, and
* Head of household or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child filing status.
This tax treatment will cease to apply as of your first tax year beginning after the calendar year in which either there is a determination that the child is dead or the child would have reached age 18, whichever occurs first.
Link provided by Prof. Music who notes: there is cold, and then there is. . . . COLD
Orland Park, Ill., police said that Ms. Nour Hadid confessed to beating her 2-yr-old niece to death, but still, her husband said, the real issue here is that the cops insulted Islam by making her take off her hajib for the mug shot. Southtown Star
Serious absent-mindedness: British opera singer Bren Terfel forgot to get dressed before heading off to the show that night (wearing shorts) and had to borrow a fan's pants. Agence France-Presse via Yahoo
The Way The World Works: A 2004 federal tax provision allowed 800 companies to keep about $100 billion away from IRS, with Big Pharma and Big Finance getting about a $220-to$1 bang for their lobbying expenses. Washington Post
The head of the Mobile (Ala.) police underage-drinking task force resigned after being caught drinking with one of the underage entrappers who work for her. Mobile Press-Register
New Hampshire's House of Representatives Wednesday approved (by 1 vote!) a transgender-rights bill. (Bonus: Wednesday was Tartan Day, when Scottish-descent hetero legislators wore kilts to work.) Concord Monitor (Wednesday) ///Concord Monitor (Thursday)
Granny was killed when she tried to break up a fight between her grandson and her brother-in-law (Bonus: a sword fight!). Associated Press via MSNBC
ABC News has just discovered our old friend Mrs. Eiffel (who is married to the Eiffel Tower after realizing she has a sorta heavy-metal fetish). Both Alex and I have been all over this subgroup of weirdos, but if you're new to the concept, here it is. ABC News
I haven't checked all of these out, but London's Mirror has the 10 weirdest Eastertime traditions, and they don't even include the Filipinos who volunteer to get nailed to a cross. The Mirror///Reuters via ABS-CBN (Quezon City, Philippines)
[Jury Duty] Cops need to stop picking on Jennifer Wills, 30, Gresham, Ore. They've arrested her for luring teenagers over for sex even though she's in a wheelchair from a recent auto accident! KATU-TV (Portland)
Today's Newsrangers: Jenny Aus, Jennifer Filipski, Michelle Jensen, Emory Kimbrough, Bob Seidman
An account of the life and death of John Cummings, a man who strove to earn a Darwin Award long before the concept of Darwin Awards existed. Reported in the Chicago Tribune, March 14, 1880:
In the narrative of memorable cases connected with Guy's Hospital there is a curious story of a sailor named John Cummings, who, in a spirit of vulgar brag, and mostly when half intoxicated, swallowed clasp-knives. In 1799 he had seen a French juggler perform the trick of assumedly swallowing knives of that kind at a public entertainment. The feat was so cleverly performed that the spectators -- or at least some of them -- were under the belief that the knives vanished down the throat of the juggler, instead of being put by sleight-of-hand in some part of his dress. The sailor, in his simplicity, was one of the credulous sort, and to astonish his messmates he began to swallow clasp-knives. He at first only swallowed four, which, fortunately for him were expelled, and no inconvenience ensued. He thought no more of knife-swallowing for six years. In March, 1805, when at Boston, he was one day tempted, while drinking with a party of sailors, to boast of his former exploits, and was ready to repeat his performance. A small knife was produced, which he instantly swallowed. In the course of that evening he swallowed five more. The next morning crowds of visitors came to see him, and in the course of the day he was induced to swallow eight knives more, making in all fourteen.
He paid dearly for his frolic; for he was seized with constant vomiting, and pain in the stomach. Taken to a hospital, he was by efficacious medical treatment relieved, as he imagined, of all the knives he had swallowed. But in this he would appear to have been mistaken. Portions of knives undissolved remained in his stomach. The amount of relief, whatever it was, did not cure the poor wretch of his folly. When at Spithead in December, 1805, and somewhat tipsy, he resumed his boastfulness of being able to swallow knives, and to amuse the ship's company swallowed nine clasp-knives, some of them of a large size. Again he became ill, and was in the hands of the ship's surgeon for several months, during which portions of knives were discharged. At length he was admitted as a patient at Guy's Hospital in 1807, and again he came to the hospital in 1808. There he remained, sinking under his sufferings, until March, 1809, when he died in a state of extreme emaciation.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.
Chuck is the purveyor of News of the Weird, the syndicated column which for decades has set the gold-standard for reporting on oddities and the bizarre.
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