I came across a story this morning about a British guy who believes he has been a zombie for the last nine years. Not, like, a “Oh, hahahaha, let’s dress up for Halloween and do a zombie crawl and get totally wasted” type of zombie, but really actually a zombie. The man had tried committing suicide a decade ago, and when he woke up in the hospital, he was adamant he was dead.
To soothe himself, the guy — called “Graham” for the purposes of the story — would hang out in graveyards, communing with his fellow “dead.” This all sounds like the plot of some kind of moody teen drama, right? But actually? “Graham” was suffering from something called Cotard Delusion.
And it is insane. Also known as Cotard’s Syndrome or Walking Corpse Syndrome, the disease is a rare mental disorder first described by French neurologist Jules Cotard in 1880. He referred to it as “negation delirium,” in which sufferers experienced delusions of their own deaths. People who have it “believe they are dead (literally and figuratively) do not exist, are putrefying, or have lost their blood or internal organs.”
Cotard described one patient in particular who believed she was missing several of her body parts, and refused to eat. She thought she was “eternally damned” and would never fully die, though she eventually, you know, starved to death.
There’ve been a handful of fully documented cases of Cotard’s Syndrome; the onset usually occurs after some kind of major trauma to the frontal lobe of the brain. Thankfully, Graham’s delusions were eventually effectively treated with a cocktail of anti-psychotic drugs.
So yeah, I’ll never look at “Walking Dead” the same way again. [Metro]