A 53- year-old Filipino complained that she was dead and smelt like rotting flesh. She was telling everyone to take her to the morgue so that she could be with the dead. A 17 yr. old girl spent three years of her life thinking she was dead. These are the cases of Cotard’s Syndrome or Walking Corpse Syndrome. It is a rare mental illness in which the patient strongly believes that he is dead. Sometimes the patient complains of loss of blood, organs or some body parts. People with mood disorders, medical conditions and psychotic disorders have been found to suffer from this illness. Cotard’s Syndrome occurs due to the lesions in the frontal and temporal regions of the right hemisphere of the brain.
First reported in the 1700s the illness is still a mystery today. No one knows the cause of the illness.
Some Cotard’s Syndrome cases:
1. Ms. L, A 53 Yr. Old Filipino Had Been On Antidepressants. In 2008, New York her relatives admitted Ms. L to the psychiatric unit. Ms. L had started complaining that she was dead and smelled like rotting flesh. She insisted that she should be send to the morgue. Then she started accusing the paramedics of trying to burn her house down. Ms. L refused to take medicines and did not eat anything. She isolated herself and slept on the bed most time of the day. She also did not follow personal hygiene. With her family’s support and proper medication Ms. L showed improvement in a month.
2. British Man Mr. G Was Utterly Convinced That He Was Dead Though He Was Breathing. Doctors told him that he was suffering from Cotard’s Syndrome. He did not believe them and said that his brain was dead. Eight months before Mr. G was severely depressed and had tried to commit suicide. He stopped smoking, talking and eating because he thought he was dead. He went to the graveyard to lie down many times and was brought back by the police. After months of therapy and treatment he was cured. Mr. G after recovery said that he had lost his sense of taste and smell. He did not talk, as he could not think of anything to speak. He had lost pleasure in everything.
3. Haley Smith, 17 Yr. Old Girl From Alabama Suffered From This Syndrome. Ms. Smith was disturbed as her parents were divorced. One day suddenly Haley felt that her body was numb and she was dead. She felt like going to the graveyard and lying there. As time went by she stopped going to school. She slept during the day and remained awake in the night. After a few days of this condition, Haley accepted that she was dead and decided to live this new life. She ate whatever she wanted as she was not going to put on weight because she was dead. She also stopped talking to her friends. After two years she spoke with her father about her condition and then she found her real illness. With medication and therapy she was herself once again. During her illness she watched Disney Films, which made her feel better and alive.
4. Man From Iran Claimed That He Was Dead And turned Into A dog. In 2005, Iran a man in his thirties went to the hospital and told the doctors that he was dead and he had been turned into a dog. He said that even his wife was dead and a dog now. He accused his relatives to have poisoned his family. He said that God had protected him in death. He was treated for Cotard’s Syndrome and was relieved of his symptoms.
Some patients suffering from the Walking Corpse Syndrome have died of starvation. They refused to eat thinking they were dead. Some also try to harm themselves and commit suicide.