Metaphysics & Psychology
Rare illness makes people think they are dead
May 31, 2016 | 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
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