tonight on "nightline," paralyzed by love. imagine loving someone so much that you're literally frozen. well, tonight, we meet one man whose feelings for his wife led to episodes of paralysis, we explore this disease of the mind. and, hallowed ground. the controversy over a proposal to build an islamic center two blocks from ground zero has reached a fevered pitch. we take an eye-opening tour of the area where we speak with a priest who supports it, and a firefighter who does not. plus, when gps attacks. road maps replaced by a touch of the button. sound too good to be true? well, it is. why gps disasters are tonight's
"sign of the times." >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news with terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," awl 18th, 2010. >> good evening, i'm cynthia mcfadden. we begin tonight with science. we've all heard the expression that love is blind, but what about paralyzed? matt frerking is one of an estimated 50,000 americans with a rare and horrible disease. it's called narcolepsy with cat mrek si, and the effect is, when matt feels love, he is unable to move. we uncovered matt's story for our "secrets of your mind" special airing tomorrow night. he provides a fascinating window into how the brain processes love. this is what it looks like to be in love. it's a struggle to keep your eyes open.
his eyes look heavy. >> he's having a tough time. >> reporter: your neck giving into gravity. >> reporter: matt, you still with us? >> still be with you even if i couldn't move. >> reporter: and then, you disappear inside. at least this is what being in love looks like for matt frerking. >> reporter: is he okay? >> he's okay. >> reporter: being in love with this woman, trish, his wife of 13 years. >> reporter: this happened? matt is trapped so, if i ask you to move your finger, can you? no. trapped by a disease. >> he's not dead. >> reporter: it's scary. >> it is scary. >> reporter: sitting there, matt's not in any pain. and he is fully awake. but a trigger has left him paralyzed. and matt's trigger is love. >> really love. >> i love you. >> reporter: love for trish. love for his step-children and their children. that basic, positive human emotion becomes a prison for him.
>> i love my wife. >> reporter: matt's eyes are open. >> he's opening them up. >> reporter: so things that most of us long for, having our grand-children, having our spouses tell us they love us, all of the things that most of us live for -- >> right. >> reporter: are things that you have to avoid. >> yes. i have to limit those things very carefully. >> the brain is behaving as if its asleep while matt is awake. >> reporter: dr. carol ash is a sleep specialist and has seen many cases similar to matt. about 50,000 americans are estimated to have the disease. >> and specifically, the brain is behaving as it would in this state of dreaming. that switch that gets turned on that inhibits the muscles at night, so that you can't get up and start running in your sleep, turns on during wakefulness. and suddenly, you're paralyzed. >> reporter: strong emotions are
tied to memories of their past lives. anniversaries are especially difficult. >> wedding photos. that was a good day. and i think that's about all i can really say about it. >> reporter: the every day emotional moments that most of us cherish are landmines to matt. the walls of their oregon home are nearly bare. only a few family pictures remain, but mostly out of sight. sort of like you have an emotional backer, and once it gets full -- >> a lot of effort goes into keeping that fluid level low that even those moments when things get a little more full, there's some place for it to go. >> reporter: without slopping over and you going down. >> right. >> reporter: matt was completely healthy four years ago, when at 35, the disease suddenly attacked. >> reporter: y
i have to say, an awful lot of us would have real problems, i mean, if you look at most american marriages, the women complain that the guys aren't emotional available. well, boy, you've got it in spades. >> yeah. but i happen to really love him. >> reporter: it can be a hellish existence. we witness how even the simplest things have become threatening for matt. like the new dog trish got so she would have somewhere to express her love. >> momma has someone to play with. yeah. good girl. good girl. go to bed. >> reporter: how is the puppy a substitute for matt? >> well, i think i'm really -- i'm a touchy person. >> i'm the person who ignores her far more than she would like. because she knows she ain't getting any love from me. she is adorable. but -- it's just not something i can really focus on. >> reporter: there are two things matt has no problem doing. one, surprisingly, is driving.
it helps him focus and stay awake. >> as long as i carefully avoid emotional topics, the risk of having an unprovoked, unexpected attack is nil. >> reporter: and the second thing is work. the deep irony in all of this is that matt frerking is a neuro scientist. he runs his own lab at the oregon health sciences university. matt is usually fine at work but has taken the necessary precautions. no pictures on the wall, and his staff knows what to expect. >> he let me know that if i were to make a joke and he immediately left the room after that, that i should not be offended, because he has to do that for self-protection. >> reporter: in fact, work also helps ward off attacks. >> my work is very emotionally neutral kind of intellectually driven activity. >> reporter: neuro science is a good place to go? >> yeah, right. >> reporter: he uses work to come out of an attack during our interview.
you are doing science in your head, aren't you? >> currently thinking about snare complexes. >> reporter: it's interesting. you went from this very tippy situation to snare complexes. >> yeah, it works. >> reporter: you must have wondered, trish, whether the best thing for him is to stay with him or to release him from -- >> absolutely. we had that discussion, i think that was probably one of the most difficult things that has occurred, as we recognized the trigger was typically me. we've talked about it, and fought through it, and i think we both agree that's not the best thing. and he does still want me in his life and i still want him in mine. i think that we're honestly very lucky to have one another. >> reporter: so, what you have learned about love in the last four years? >> love endures a lot. i love my wife.
and no disease gets in the way of that. >> i think it helps a lot to be with the right person. the fact that it's hard for him is hard for me. i want to finish life with this guy, so -- and i feel really thankful that he wants to continue on through life with me. >> reporter: despite being able -- unable to move when he's feeling love for you. i mean, i think we're in -- do you think we're there -- matt? and once more, matt becomes paralyzed by love. a love he refuses to give up. the power of love and the interesting things going on in the brain. you can see more of matt and trish's story tomorrow night on our special "secrets of your mind" at 10:00 p.m. eastern. when we come back, we'll take you inside the controversy surrounding the ground zero mosque, complete with a
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paterson proposed finding a compromise site for the center. john berman spent the day at ground zero for a remarkable tour. >> reporter: it has been labeled by some as the ground zero mosque. even though it's not quite a mosque and even though it's not quite at ground zero. but the cordoba house is dominating the national discussion. >> this is a slap to those innocent victims who were murdered. >> the muslims in this world aren't in al qaeda. >> reporter: just today, the president defended saying he supported the right to build the center. >> the answer is no regrets. >> reporter: new video came out from a group called keep america safe, with the voices of 9/11 families opposing the construction. >> this mosque -- it's wrong. it's so wrong. >> reporter: and just fadtoday, a walk around ground zero, we heard both sides. >> i believe they would offer a side of islam that is peace-loving, the kind of
neighborho neighbor we want to have here. >> this is radical islam building a triumphant 15-story building on the cemetery of their loved ones. >> reporter: unlike many people debating this issue from afar, both father kevin madigan and retired firefighter tim brown have deep emotional ties to 9/11. the father's church was just a block away from the towers. >> i was in the church when the first plane rushed the tower. i wanted to see if i could be any help. >> reporter: brown, who was detail to the mayor that day, lost 93 of his friends. >> we got within 20 feet of the door to tower two when it collapsed. you could hear the floors pancaking, hitting each other. >> reporter: brown is close to many victims' tam lips and has been a vocal critic of the center. >> they will be praying at the grave of their loved one and they will hear allahu akbar coming through the block. >> reporter: the call to prayer.
>> the call to prayer. it is also a war crime and that is the same words that were yelled on the planes before they slammed them into the towers. we -- can you imagine losing your son or father or mother and praying and crying at their grave and hearing that being forced to listen to that in your ears? >> this is not a mosque. it's a cultural center, where there is a prayer space. so, there's no towers or somebody belting out allahu akbar this is not going to take place. >> reporter: at the pentagon, also attacked on 9/11, there is a prayer room where muslims worship every week. the military says they've received no complaints. brown insists he has no issues with islam on the whole. and where should they pray in new york city? >> there are hundreds of mosques in new york city. there are many, many blocks. right around here. >> reporter: can you hear the
call to prayer? >> i don't know. i vice president gone in. >> reporter: there are strip clubs, a betting parlor and a planned shopping mall that will be underground at ground zero itself. well, you know, does the commercial activity, the shopping ball they're going to build here take away from the sacred nature. does the strip club? >> i think there is different, because of the intention. you know, imam ralph said he wants to leverage 9/11. it's meant to make a statement. and it's a statement that we don't want to be made here. >> reporter: brown is talking about the man behind the planned 13-story, $100 million core boba house. imman ralph. brown criticizes ralph for failing to disclose the source of his funding. and also questions ralph's background, saying, he refuses to denounce the palestinian group hamas. but ralph has worked with both the bush and obama administration on outreach to muslims overseas.
>> my feeling is that the fbi is comfortable with the imam, then i'm comfortable, too. >> yeah, i think the fbi needs to rethink what they're doing. >> reporter: the planned islamic center is about two and a half blocks from the world trade center site. a bit of a walk. took us 2:45 to walk here where the center is going. you know, one of the things people, some people say is that, look, this isn't at ground zero. >> yeah, but what is ground zero? and -- this building was damaged by the landing gear of the plane. >> reporter: just too close, he says. >> i just don't know if this is the place to do it. this is sacred ground here. this is -- it's too hurtful, you know? why do we have to do that here? >> reporter: what about that? why here? couldn't it be a bit further away? >> it should be here because it presents a face of islam that is consistent with american values, thats spouses some of the ideals
of religion that i also adhere to. i think it can be part of the rebirding process and establishing peace, looking to the future, instead of looking to the past. >> reporter: you do acknowledge that some of the families are hurt by this? >> certainly. and the families are to be respected. they have their feelings. and i respect that. but -- i disagree that -- i don't think those feelings have a veto power or trump the basic right to worship. >> reporter: nothing was settled today. but for all the yelling on tv, one thing was accomplished. there was a friendly discussion about a disvicive issue. i'm john berman for "nightline" in new york. >> and that counts for a lot. a controversy with no end in sight. john berman filing the report from the eye of the political storm. when we come back, think that cute little gpsgizmo is going to get you where you're going? well, you may want to think again. depression is a serious medical condition.
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stands between us and getting hopelessly lost. but just like human beings, technology is not perfect. but just like human beings, technology is not perfect. so, in this encore report from miguel marquez, gps disasters are a "sign of the times." >> reporter: this is too cool. my new gps. this is going to be great. global position systems, using satellites, pinpoint your location for a world of stress-free driving. traffic jams, a thing of the past. never look at another map. gps technology, getting you to the future. turn right. turn -- >> reporter: the reality of gps doesn't always live up to the promise. directions sometimes less than perfect, and don't you dare punch in a wrong number or a name. technology so sweet, so lovely, it can turn on you in an instant. >> there's a bit of a mountain to climb, i guess, to use these
things. >> you hear the horror stories of gps, they don't send you in quite the right direction. >> reporter: in seattle, there was that near disaster when a bus driver was taking a softball team to a game. gps routed his 12-foot bus under a nine-foot bridge. yikes. 21 players and the coach sustained minor injuries. the driver got a $154 ticket. then there was the swedish couple vacationing in italy. they wanted to visit the gorgeous island of caprice. instead, they punched in carpi. what a difference two letters makes. no sunshine for them. instead, they wound up in an industrial town 400 miles offcourse and, no doubt, very embarrassed. >> it takes me into no left turns and no right turns and dead ends and buildings, sometimes. >> reporter: here's one that
coyote and road runner would love. in utah, 26 friends traveling in separate cars wanted to take the scenic route to the grand canyon. boy did they ever get it. >> road trip! >> yeah! >> reporter: gps led them along nearly impassable roads then left them out of gas on the edge of a sheer cliff. one of them called the episode a nightmare. a vags case from hell. in southern england, gps led a truck driver into a tight spot. so tight, he had to spend three nights waiting for a tow. the lesson? no matter how smart technology gets, it can still lead us to some pretty dumb places. >> fortunately, gps can't give people the one thing they really need, which is some kind of common sense. >> reporter: sometimes a gps screwup isn't a disaster at all there was a case of a british bank robbers and their not too
smart driver who used his gps to scout robbery locations. they were very interesting places to police. when he got caught on one job, investigators were able to link him and his partners in crime to 21 other robberies. crime doesn't pay, even with gps to lead the way. can i help you officer? >> go left and go right and then sometimes it's confusing. >> reporter: so, as you head out, no matter where you think or hope you might be heading, keep your eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, and don't necessarily trust where gps or any technology may be leading you. for "nightline," i'm miguel car mess, in london. >> oh, that was cool. that or maybe a road map. we'll be right back with tonight's closing argument. first, here's jimmy kimmel with what's coming up next on abc. >> tonight, jerry o'connell, carla gugine, music from brett
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