Hodor may be taking a hiatus from this season of Game Of Thrones, but his presence still looms over the show’s fandom mostly because it’s easy to make jokes about the fact that he only says one word. For instance this is what happens when you Google “Hodor.”
But now New York Magazine has posited a neurological explanation for why Hodor keeps “Hodoring.”
The article notes that whether he meant to or not, George R.R. Martin “created a character with a textbook example of a neurological condition called expressive aphasia.” The condition was discovered by a French physician named Paul Broca back in 1861 after he met Louis-Victor Leborgne, a man with relatively normal comprehension and mental functioning who slowly lost the ability to produce meaningful speech over 20 years. Leborgne could only say the word “tan,” which soon became his nickname. Similarly, The Game Of Thrones books reveal Hodor’s real name is actually Walder and no one knows where the word “Hodor” comes from.
Leborgne died just a few days after meeting Broca and the physician performed an autopsy that revealed a lesion in the frontal lobe of Lebronge’s left brain. Broca continued to examine other patients with similar conditions and found consistent damage to the region, which is today referred to as “Broca’s area.”
Both Leborgne and Hodor are pretty extreme examples of expressive aphasia, which usually limits speech to a lesser extent. The disorder is most commonly caused by a stroke, although it can also be brought on by a tumor, hemorrhage, or trauma to the head. That could potentially offer some hints about Hodor’s backstory, depending on how much Martin knew about aphasia when he wrote the character.
Since Game Of Thrones takes place in the generically medieval era, Hodor only has to wait a couple hundred years until Westeros science is finally able to understand his condition.
The full article is over at New York Magazine.