Most people don’t really believe zombies are real, but people who suffer from Cotard’s Syndrome do. When afflicted with this mental illness, also referred to as “Walking Corpse Syndrome,” a person actually believe they’re dead. The disease is named after Jules Cotard, a French neurologist who was first to diagnosed a case where a female patient believed she was dead.
As unbelievable as it sounds, and although the condition is not classified as a separate disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the disease is considered real by many doctors.
Multiple patients have reported believing that they’re brain dead, their organs are rotting, or that their heart no longer beats. Even though it seems ridiculous for people to think thinks way , if they are not treated the disease can be deadly. This is because patients who don’t think they’re alive don’t try to stay alive and avoid doing the necessary things crucial to survival, such as eating, sleeping, and having good hygiene.
Michael Birnbaum, MD, says, “I’ve worked with patients who felt that they were already dead, that they were living either in heaven or hell and were convinced that their body wasn’t actually working anymore. And I’ve had other patients who came in feeling as though their insides had already died, that their livers weren’t working and that they were rotting from the inside.”
Dr. Birnbaum says that this illness is due to two psychotic conditions.
Cotard’s is often associated with schizophrenia, where individuals are struggling with psychotic experiences, like hearing things that other people don’t hear and having unusual beliefs. You can also see [Cotard’s syndrome] in individuals with severe forms of depression. Anybody suffering with a severely depressed mood can become psychotic as well.
Fortunately people suffering from Cortard’s Delusion, don’t have to be put out of their misery with head shots as is required in many of the zombie works like The Walking Dead. The illness is curable with the proper treatment, which Dr. Birnbaum says includes mainly emotional support that encourages the patient to have hope in spite of their obstacles, as well as medication.