As you know my condition is rare, because I was born with an extra limb in my body, a second face in the back of my head. It is a face that has always been there with the eyes open, as if was death. In 20 years of my life I never thought it would become so terrible until a few years ago, that thing woke. At night, he is trying to communicate with me. I heard him laughing when I´m crying. He knows the horrors of hell, he has already been there and wants to get back. He wants to invade my mind and persuade me with gloomy thoughts. He is a demon, stitched to me for ever. Today i decided to leave this body. It is the medium that binds us together. When they find my body – I Command, pray and beseech that my body be separated from the face and buried far away from any signal of my body in order to stop that thing from haunting me after death. That tree, the furthest of all. The more solitary, bury me there where only loneliness can be breathe. For it is all I’ve ever asked.
These are the lines excerpted from the trailer of the movie “Edward Mordrake (Mordake)” reflecting the horrors of the two faced noble Englishman of the 19th century named Edward Mordrake; double faced not in the sense of hypocritical but he was born with an extra face in the back of his head which is medically attributed as a case of Craniopagus parasiticus.
The true story of Edward has been lost to the history. The oldest reference of the case appears in 1896, in “Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine” by George Gould and Walter Pyle. According to the story, he had graceful face and figure, amazing musical skills and fine attainments but was cursed with a second malignant face (according to some versions, the face was female) at the back of his head, which drove him to suicide when he was 23. The extra face could neither eat nor speak, but it could laugh, cry and whisper. Edward begged doctors to have his ‘devil twin’ removed, because, supposedly, it whispered horrible things to him at night, but no doctor would attempt it as the surgery would be highly risky and would cost him his life. This led him to depression and he stayed desolated and isolated away from his family and friends. One of what has driven this story popular among us is a song by Tom Waits. The other two famous cases in history are of the tow headed Chinese man Chang Tzu Ping and a Mexican man named Pasqual Pinon.
From the medical view point, this could be a case of Craniopagus parasiticus. The conjoined twins are joined at the head (craniopagus) in which a rudimentary/parasitic head (with little or no body) is attached to the head of the larger and usually more normal twin. It is an extremely rare condition with very slim chances of survival. In rare instances, the body of one craniopagus twin atrophies in utero due to deficient placental blood supply, and the result is craniopagus parasiticus conjoined twins, where the ‘normal’ twin has a parasitic head and rudimentary body attached to the crown of the head. There are 9 previously described cases of craniopagus parasiticus, of whom only two have been born alive. The parasitic head can be reasonably well developed and show clear signs of independent life as in a case of a 2 headed Bengal Boy (1783). The junction may be more or less extensive: in partial craniopagi, the crania are intact or simply fused, while in total craniopagi, the two brains are encased in a common cranium. While, in the former subgroup, the brains are often quite intact, those of the latter subgroup are sometimes malformed. Some sources describes the extra face as being that of a beautiful woman, which is highly unlikely for a parasitic twin as both the twins would be of the same gender.
The condition of Edward has also been linked to Diprosopus in several literature. Diprosopus occurs when a single body and neck are present, but there is a duplication of the structures of the face. This is different from craniopagus parasiticus in that there is only one head, although there is a duplication of the craniofacial features. Diprosopus can range from having two fully formed faces to just a duplication of the nose or eyes.
Also, the possibility of presence of delusion or schizophrenia along with conjoined twin cannot be completely discarded. The fact that the extra face could only weep or laugh and would whisper terrible things at night makes him suspicious for com-morbidity of a mental illness.
MYTH OR TRUTH?
It is very difficult to discern, whether the story is a myth or truth. Absence of a real photograph and proper historical recording and presence of several versions of the story surrounding the same person of the case points that it may be a myth. The fact that the case has been mentioned in few scientific literature (more like a tale), and other 9-10 cases with the suspected condition have been recorded earlier, points that it may be a truth.
Similar cases that have been reported or observed with better evidences:
1. Featured in “Ripley’s Believe it or not” was a man with two mouths. Scans showed he had an underdeveloped, parasitic twin, within his body complete with partial brain. Successful surgery removed the twin from his face.
2. Manar Maged from Egypt
The baby was born with a condition called craniophagus parasiticus, similar with the conditions discussed earlier. Baby underwent a procedure to treat hercondition — a problem related to that of conjoined twins linked at the skull. The separation was successful but the baby deceased after 2 years of CNS infection. It was one of the marked case of this century. Several other cases were reported. Read more Reports