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Metaphysics & Psychology

Rare illness makes people think they are dead

May 31, 2016 | Comment icon 9 comments



Patients often believe that parts of their body are missing. Image Credit: sxc.hu
A rare condition called Walking Corpse Syndrome leaves sufferers feeling as though they are zombies.
First described by French neurologist Jules Cotard in 1880, the condition leaves patients with delusional beliefs ranging from having missing internal organs to being clinically dead.

One of the earliest known sufferers of the condition was a patient known as Mademoiselle X who complained that she was missing several parts of her body including her brain and stomach.

Believing herself to be "eternally damned", she eventually ended up insisting that, given that she had no stomach, she no longer needed to eat and subsequently died of starvation.

Perhaps the best known contemporary case of Walking Corpse Syndrome is that of a man known only as Graham who for nine years has lived with the belief that he no longer has a brain or a head.
Speaking recently about his condition, he described how he had stopped smoking or engaging in social activities because, being 'dead', he didn't think that there was any point.

"I didn't want to face people," he said. "There was no point. I didn't feel pleasure in anything. I used to idolize my car, but I didn't go near it. All the things I was interested in went away."

A brain scan later revealed startling abnormalities.

"I’ve been analyzing PET scans for 15 years and I’ve never seen anyone who was on his feet, who was interacting with people, with such an abnormal scan result," said neurologist Steven Laurey.

"Graham’s brain function resembles that of someone during anaesthesia or sleep. Seeing this pattern in someone who is awake is quite unique to my knowledge."

Source: Medical Daily | Comments (9)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by BeastieRunner 6 years ago
Thinking one is immortal and then actively doing something to test it out ... I wonder what the stats are on that?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Vlawde 6 years ago
If I thought I was dead, I'd know I wasn't because I'm thinking. The missing organs etc, that condition brings to mind Frank, who posted here and elsewhere complaining that his organs had stopped working
Comment icon #3 Posted by pallidin 6 years ago
"Perhaps the best known contemporary case of Walking Corpse Syndrome is that of a man known only as Graham who for nine years has lived with the belief that he no longer has a brain or a head. "   Huh. My wife tells me this.
Comment icon #4 Posted by highdesert50 6 years ago
I suspect many have witnessed the effect of Monday morning prior to coffee. Regardless, Oliver Sacks would have embraced this anomaly.
Comment icon #5 Posted by freetoroam 6 years ago
This is not new news, they are very rare cases of delusion and depression....on the extreme level. http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/mental-disorders/what-is-cotards-syndrome.htm https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotard_delusion    
Comment icon #6 Posted by Ryu 6 years ago
Umm..to begin with, what would these people have in order for them to compare their condition to that would make them think they are dead?  
Comment icon #7 Posted by freetoroam 6 years ago
Hence why they are delusional.  But today they have zombie and vampire films,  and ofcourse youtube,  would not surprise me If we start seeing more of these cases now they are "advertising" It. 
Comment icon #8 Posted by DingoLingo 6 years ago
this sounds like me after my week of nightshift..
Comment icon #9 Posted by Thorvir Hrothgaard 6 years ago
Yeah that's what I was going to bring up. "OMG, I think I'm dead.  I'd better call someone, fast!"


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