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Cotard’s Delusion: What Is “Walking Corpse Syndrome?”

Cotard’s Delusion: What Is “Walking Corpse Syndrome?”
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Cotard’s Delusion

walking corpse syndrome


Cotard’s Delusion is a very rare psychiatric disorder that results in an individual believing they do not exist or they are no longer alive. Some patients with Cotard’s Delusion believe that certain parts of their body are no longer there or that they are decomposing. For this reason, the condition has been called “Walking Corpse Syndrome.” Cotard’s Delusion is very closely linked with mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, with most patients having been previously diagnosed with one of these forms of mental illness.

What Causes Cotard’s Delusion?

Cotard’s Delusion is thought to originate from the amygdala and the fusiform gyrus in the brain. These areas of the brain are responsible for controlling emotions and facial recognition, respectively. If these two areas are not operating properly, they lead to a distorted perception of self and make the individual question their existence or believe they are no longer living. The condition can also stem from the following underlying illnesses:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Hypochondria
  • Epilepsy
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Dementia
  • Brain Tumors
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Stroke
  • Brain Atrophy

Types Of Cotard’s Delusion

There is only one type of Cotard’s Delusion.

Cotard’s Delusion’s Symptoms

  • Denial of existence
  • Insisting that one has died
  • Having an elaborate story of one’s own death
  • Smelling rotting flesh
  • Denial of a body part’s existence
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Feeling of guilt
  • Insensitivity to pain
  • Neglecting personal hygiene
  • Lack of interest in social life
  • Suicidal tendencies
  • Hallucinations
  • Distorted perception

cotard's delusion

Diagnosing Cotard’s Delusion

A psychiatrist is necessary to diagnose Cotard’s Delusion, as they will perform a thorough psychiatric evaluation. They may also refer you to a neurologist to rule out certain underlying neurological conditions.

Treating Cotard’s Delusion

A combination of psychiatric medications, such as anti-depressants and anti-psychotics, is the most effective treatment for Cotard’s delusion. Severe and persistent cases may require electroconvulsive therapy, which uses electrical impulses to essentially “reset” the areas of the brain that are malfunctioning.

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