‘Walking Dead Syndrome’ — It’s Real, We Promise
Around Halloween we all hear our fair share of zombie tales, but this one is true. Formally known as Cotard's Syndrome, the Walking Dead Syndrome is almost exactly what you think it might be. People walking around thinking they are actually dead. Real live living zombies!!
Sufferers of Cotard's Syndrome are very rare, but very real. Some that have suffered from this feel as if they themselves are dead, they are bloodless, or are missing body parts. Marcia Purse from About.com explains that she found a case where the woman ill with the syndrome, "was complaining that she was dead, smelled like rotting flesh, and wanted to be taken to a morgue so that she could be with dead people."Wouldn't that be the scariest feeling?
Some cases are of people just feeling as if they don't work. A woman explained that she did not need to eat because her mouth did not produce saliva. Others have complained of not having organs such as; stomach, heart, or even parts of the brain.
Where did this come from? The first case was discovered by Dr. Cotard himself. Back in the 1800's, Cotard came across a woman that, "...did not believe in god or the devil and did not believe she had certain body parts. She also didn't think that she had to eat." This syndrome can be the beginnings to may other mental illnesses. Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia can emerge from these delusions of missing parts and nonexistent life. All and all, it is a dangerous and horrifying syndrome.
We may think the idea is creepy or maybe even funny, but this is an illness that can lead someone to hurt themselves. Some people with this disorder may feel immortal. Although this feeling is very rare among those that have Cotord's Syndrome. They may test their own mortality by attempting suicide. That is a treacherous path to walk.
To add another horror movie element to this true story, the treatment that seems to work best for these patients is electroshock. Is anyone else thinking about Frankenstein? The dead coming alive with electricity. Though, this seems like a plot to a scary movie, this is the treatment that helps shock the brain into reality. Mild cases have been treated with therapy and medications. I cannot imagine counseling someone that believed they were a rotting corpse walking.
After this long week of work, we might all feel as if we have this syndrome, but we are lucky that we are not living this real life nightmare. Enjoy trying to sleep tonight with the idea of living zombies out in the world, just waiting.