Olivia Farnsworth: The Bionic Girl

Did you know Olivia Farnsworth is a girl from the UK who doesn't feel hunger, pain, or the need to sleep? As a matter of fact, she completley baffled medics when they discovered her strange chromosome condition. It’s a 'rarer than rare' medical condition. Keep reading to learn more about the 'bionic girl'.
Olivia Farnsworth: The Bionic Girl
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 15 January, 2022

Olivia Farnsworth’s case is one of the most surprising in history. She’s a British girl who doesn’t experience pain, hunger, or the need sleep. These are three of our greatest human weaknesses and limitations. Therefore, what happens in the mind of someone who doesn’t even register them? Furthermore, how can a person survive who lacks any notion of danger?

Olivia Farnsworth is currently ten years old. Everything points to the fact that her case is the only one of its kind in the world. At least, it’s the only one we know about. In fact, when her condition became public, much of the press labeled her ‘the bionic girl’.

“What makes his world so hard to see clearly is not its strangeness but its usualness. Familiarity can blind you too.”

-Robert Pirsig-

However, Olivia and her family haven’t paid much attention to this nickname, nor to the insistence of the media as portraying her as a rarity. Instead, they’ve taken advantage of her popularity to start a campaign to raise funds for her case to be scientifically investigated. This, eventually, will be conducted by the Groningen University Medical Center (Netherlands).

Olivia Farnsworth.

Olivia Farnsworth and her strange characteristics

Olivia Farnsworth was born in the English town of Huddersfield, which is halfway between Manchester and Leeds. She’s a beautiful and happy girl, who’s grown up normally. However, she did manifest certain strange symptoms from an early age. Indeed, her mother noticed she was different from other children when she was a baby.
For example, Olivia hardly ever cried. At first, her mother simply thought that she was a calm baby, who didn’t get upset particularly easily. However, as she began to grow up, she also showed difficulty in sleeping.
She was active all day and, from nine months of age she never took a nap again. Despite this, when night came she was still full of energy and often woke her parents at dawn. Also, she didn’t seem to have much of an appetite. In fact, she only ate when her parents insisted she do so. Her mother started calling her a “baby of steel.”

A striking fact

These characteristics didn’t arouse any suspicion in her parents. They thought it was just due to her temperament. However, when she started school, something happened that was completely out of the ordinary. Olivia fell and got a deep wound on her lip. She was bleeding profusely, but reacted as if nothing had happened. When they took her to the hospital, she had to undergo minor surgery. Nevertheless, she showed no sign of pain. This obviously attracted the attention of the doctor. In fact, he was the first person to alert the family to her rare condition. Even so, the parents didn’t realize the extent of her strange disorder.

However, they were soon to find out when Olivia was run over by a car. It dragged her for more than 60 feet, but she got up as if nothing had happened. Later, the doctors explained that nothing had, indeed, happened to her. This wasn’t because she was immune to harm, but because she’d kept her body so relaxed during the accident that she had no fractures.

The doctors discovered that Olivia Farnsworth not only lacked sensations of pain, but also had no notion of danger. Therefore, she hadn’t even tried to avoid the car.


The scientific explanations

There are recorded cases of people who don’t feel pain, or who have less appetite than normal, or hardly need any sleep. However, the case of Olivia Farnsworth is the only one in which all these characteristics are present simultaneously. Doctors have explained that it’s a rare genetic condition caused by the absence of chromosome 6.

In reality, it’s not that this chromosome is completely absent, but that it’s so significantly altered that, basically, it’s unusable. This deficiency has led to Olivia Farnsworth having to take sleeping pills to sleep.

That’s the sad tragedy of this little girl. Because the fact that she doesn’t feel sleepy doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need to sleep. Nor does the fact that she doesn’t feel hungry mean she doesn’t need to eat. Likewise, her absence of pain doesn’t equal the absence of damage to her body. Indeed, she’s someone who needs a  great deal of care, since she doesn’t possess the internal signals to alert her to what she needs in order to carry on living.


All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Serrano, J. (1983). Taxonomía, cromosomas y biogeografía de. Harpalus ebeninus, 159-170.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.