Being a Walking Corpse
The psychological symptom that I would like to talk about today is Cotard Delusion. It is also known as Walking Corpse Syndrome or Cotard Syndrome. This is a rare condition, but one that has devastating effects and can even lead to a person’s death.
Before we get to far into this, I think that I need to start off by talking about what a delusion is. It is defined as being a fixed false belief. What that means is that you cannot make a delusional person stop believing in their delusions even when they are faced with clear evidence to prove that their delusion is false. You cannot change their mind. If you can, it’s not a delusion. I’m not going to get into how delusions are treated in this post. Why not? Because there is no simple answer and it really depends on the diagnosis the person has.
Let’s review a little history. Cotard syndrome is a specific nihilistic delusion (or delusion of negation) named after Jules Cotard, a French neurologist, who first described the condition, which he called le délire de négation(negation delirium), in 1880. He described the case of a woman who died from starvation because she believed that she did not need to eat because she was already dead. You can read more about specific cases here or here.
Historically, this was considered a syndrome, a illness unto itself. And you can often find information on the internet that still describes it in this manner. However, the DSM does not recognize it as a disorder, but as a symptom.
The affected person holds the delusional belief that he or she is already dead, does not exist, is putrefying or has lost his or her blood or internal organs.
Denial of self-existence is a symptom present in 69 percent of the cases of Cotard’s syndrome; yet, paradoxically, 55 percent of the patients might present delusions of immortality. If you cannot die you will exist forever, thus being immortal.
And you can go check out the places I read up on this over here.