Pop culture paints the premise for zombies and subsequent apocalypse as driven by a virus or bacteria infecting the masses, turning us into mindless, flesh-eating undead. Bad movie plots aside, is it possible for zombie behavior to originate from a non-foreign affliction, such as a mental disorder?
Known as ‘Walking Corpse Syndrome,’ one such condition certainly raises an interesting possibility the answer is yes.
Walking Corpse Syndrome, first described back in 1880 by a French neurologist called Jules Cotard, leaves patients feeling as if they’re zombies. Literally, these faux zombies believe their organs were removed, and they’re clinically dead. The condition is also known today as Cotard’s syndrome, a nod to his pioneering research.
So what exactly does feeling like a zombie mean?
Well, as an example, one case Cotard documented involved a woman known as Mademoiselle X, convinced she was missing several organs including her brain and stomach. Ultimately deciding she no longer needed to eat, the unfortunate woman starved to death.
Another famous case involved a man named Graham, who lived for nine years under the assumption he no longer had a brain or head. Graham stopped engaging in all social activities because he didn’t think there was any point. A brain scan revealed a series of startling anomalies which the neurologist on the case, Steven Laurey, said he’d never encountered before. Laurey was amazed that Graham had the capacity to interact with people at all – his brain activity resembled someone under deep anesthesia or sound asleep.
As recently as 2015, a teen spent three years convinced she was dead while suffering from Walking Corpse Syndrome. Curiously, she was convinced otherwise by therapy and, bizarrely, watching Disney films that gave her a ‘warm fuzzy feeling.’