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Walking corpse syndrome

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Cotard's syndrome makes the patient truly believe they have died or have never existed....

Walking Corpse syndrome (also known as Cotard's syndrome) is a mental disorder that effects a very small percent of the population. Reports of of the syndrome have been documented ever since 1882. In 1880, the neurologist Jules Cotard described the condition as a psychiatric syndrome of varied severity. This rare condition exists in patients with depression, schizophrenia and psychotic disorder caused by a general medical condition, and it is quite often associated with dementia. This mental illness gives the affected person the delusional belief that they are already dead, do not exist, are putrefying, or have lost their blood or internal organs. Although they believe thy are dead or do not exist, around 55 percent of people with Walking corpse syndrome believe they are immoral. Although it is treatable, many patient suffer without telling anyone because they are so sure of there death or nonexistence, they feel no need to interact with anyone. [1] [2]

What is Walking Corpse Syndrome?

Walking corpse syndrome is a rare mental disorder that effects only around .60 percent of the population. This mental disorder is known to cause hallucinations, delusions and mild to severe pain. There are three stages to Walking corpse syndrome. The first stage is called germination. Germination is composed of anxiety, severe depression, loss of sleep or appetite and even confusion. patients reportedly go to the doctors with strange ailments like the feeling of internal organs decaying or liquefying. the second stage, known as "the blooming stage" sees patients denying they have certain organs or body parts. This delusion worsens during the last stage, also known as "the chronic stage." during the third stage, patients are known to stop taking care of themselves, and even harming themselves. Most cases also involves the patient refusing to eat solid foods, but rather only drink fluids. With anti-psychotic therapy, most people show some improvement and start to eat more solid food. This disorder can also cause the subject to forget what they look life, and even smell there supposedly rotting flesh. Most people with this disorder spend a lot of time in cemeteries because they say it feels like they are "at home." In extremely bad cases, patients have been known to starve themselves to death or even commit suicide because they believe they can not die. Many people who report having Walking corpse syndrome show no early signs and no neurological or psychiatric disease present in the family history.[3] [4]

Cotard's syndrome effects the parietal lobe and Fusiform gyrus.

How Do You Get This Disorder?

Walking corpse syndrome is normally brought on when the brain has undergone extensive trauma. This syndrome is triggered when the sections of the brain that control the emotions and face recognition get messed up. The two secretions that are damaged include Fusiform gyrus, which is the area of your brain that recognizes faces. the other secretion is Amygdala, which are a set of neurons that are almond-shaped and processes your emotions. People with this condition feel like they are dead because they have no feeling or recognition for anyone around them, or even themselves. another cause for this disorder is an adverse reaction to acyclovir, a medication for people that suffer kidney failure. A person with weak kidneys continue risking the occurrence of delusional symptoms, despite limiting the dose they take of aciclovir. Brain tumors, Strokes, Migraines and Parkinson’s disease can increase the risk for Walking corpse syndrome. The occurrence of Walking corpse syndrome is associated with lesions in the parietal lobe. Because of this, a patient with this disorder presents a greater chance of brain atrophy—especially of the median frontal lobe. [5]

Electroconvulsive therapy is just one of the ways to treat Walking corpse syndrome.

How is it Treated?

Walking corpse syndrome is treated with medication or electroconvulsive therapy (EC). Medications that patients can take in order to treat the symptoms include antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and mood stabilizer medications. Patients with bipolar disorder found that mood stabilizers help the best. Hemodialysis (kidney dialysis), can resolve patient's delusions within hours of treatment. Most cases of Walking corpse syndrome are more responsive to electroconvulsive treatment rather than prescription medications. Electroconvulsive therapy therapy is done by placing electrodes on the patient’s head and performing the small impulses. Studies had revealed that EC reduces regional cerebral blood flow and dilatation of the lateral and third ventricles. EC is very controversial due to the fact that it is painful to the patient and can leave permeate brain damage if done incorrectly. Because it is so controversial, doctors are looking for ways of treating the syndrome without leaving damage to the patient. The overall prognosis is determined by the severity of the disorder and the treatment strategies used to manage it. Some patients recover with proper treatment like medication. [6]

Who Does it Effect?

Anyone can be effected by Walking corpse syndrome. People with previous mental conditions are much more likely to suffer from it. People who have recently gone through brain trauma that affected there temporal lobe. Neurologic illnesses are also responsible for the symptoms. [7]

Cotard's Syndrome makes its victim feel like a real life zombie.


One more intense cases involves a man whose name is not given for confidentiality reasons. He was diagnosed after experiencing traumatic brain damage to his cerebral hemisphere, frontal lobe, and ventricular system. For several months after his trauma, he continued to experience difficulty recognizing faces, places, and objects. He was also convinced that he was dead and experienced feelings of derealization. Later in his life he believed that he had been taken to hell after dying of AIDS or septicemia. although further tests indicated he could distinguish whether people were dead or alive, he still suspected he was dead. After he was treated for depression, his delusions of death slowly diminished. [8]


Other mental illnesses


  1. Cotard delusion wikipedia. Web. last updated May 4, 2017. Author unknown
  2. Caliyurt, Okan. Cotard's syndrome with schizophreniform disorder can be successfully treated with electroconvulsive therapy: case report Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience . Web. published on March 29,2004.
  3. Baulkman, Jaleesa. Dead Alive: Rare Mental Illness Called Walking Corpse Syndrome Makes People Think They're Dead Newsweek Media Group . published May 25, 2016.
  4. Caliyurt, Okan. Cotard's syndrome with schizophreniform disorder can be successfully treated with electroconvulsive therapy: case report Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience . Web. published on March 29,2004.
  5. Cotard delusion wikipedia. Web. last updated May 4, 2017. Author unknown
  6. Cotard’s delusion MEDIGOD. Web. Accessed on June 5, 2017. Author Unknown
  7. Walking Corpse Syndrome MDDK. accessed on May 24, 2017. Author Unknown
  8. Cotard delusion Wikipedia. Web. last updated May 4, 2017. Author unknown