Since Halloween is coming up soon, its interesting to know that there are people walking around believing that they are actually dead. The Cotard delusion, or the walking corpse syndrome, is a rare mental illness that causes a person to believe that they are dead. By “dead”, this could mean they think they’ve died and are still somehow walking around like a corpse, or it could mean something more philosophical, that they believe they no longer exist, despite any evidence to the contrary.
Logic is not strong with walking corpse syndrome candidates. A study published in the journal Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica show that out of 100 cases of Cotard delusion, they found that 69 percent of the patients held the belief that they didn’t actually exist, and yet, curiously, 55 percent of this group also held the delusion that they were immortal. Here’s a short clip from ‘I fucking love science’ on the topic:
The Cotard delusion has its neurological correlates and is thought to be caused by neurons misfiring in the fusiform gyrus region of the brain, and the amygdala. The fusiform gyrus area is associated with our ability to recognise faces and the amygdala allows us to associate emotions with a face we’ve recognised. When these two areas don’t work properly, a person can suffer from derealisation, which is a wider disorder that causes an all-consuming feeling of disconnection from one’s environment. If the person also suffer from some kind of psychosis, such as schizophrenia, or another neurological or mental illness that enhances the feeling of disconnection, the person is more likely to develop the Cotard delusion. Derealisation and disconnection combined with the fact that the person cannot recognise their own face, or associate any emotions with it, can result in the Cotard delusion. Feeling that you’re an undead dead walking zombie. Happy halloween 🙂
Read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotard_delusion