A MAN suffering a rare brain disorder was so convinced he was a zombie that he would hang out in graveyards to be close to death.
Writing in New Scientist magazine, the patient, identified only as Graham, says that after a failed suicide attempt he was convinced that he had in fact died and was one of the “walking dead”.
Graham told baffled doctors there was no point treating him because he had no brain and was already dead.
He was diagnosed with the extremely rare Cotard’s Syndrome, known as “Walking Corpse Syndrome”, a condition that makes people believe that they or parts of their body no longer exist.
Some people with the condition even starve to death, convinced they don’t need to eat. Others have tried to get rid of their body with acid, convinced they don’t need it anymore, the New Scientist reports. It is linked to depression and affects just a few hundred people, doctors believe.
“It’s hard to explain. I just felt like my brain didn’t exist anymore,” Graham said.
“When I was in hospital I kept on telling them that tablets weren’t going to do me any good ’cause my brain was dead. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I didn’t need to eat, or speak, or do anything. I ended up spending time in the graveyard because that was the closest I could get to death.”
“I just felt I might as well stay there. It was the closest I could get to death. The police would come and get me, though, and take me back home.”
Graham was so convinced he was dead that he stopped brushing his teeth, which turned black – proof, he thought, that he was dead. His brother and carers were forced to look after him to ensure he ate.
“I lost my sense of smell and my sense of taste. There was no point in eating because I was dead. It was a waste of time speaking as I never had anything to say. I didn’t even really have any thoughts. Everything was meaningless,” Graham said.
Brain scans showed his metabolic activity was so low it resembled a person in a vegetative state.
“I’ve been analysing PET scans for 15 years and I’ve never seen anyone who was on his feet, who was interacting with people, with such an abnormal scan result,” Doctor Steven Laureys told New Scientist. The condition is linked to depression, doctors believe.
“Graham’s brain function resembles that of someone during anaesthesia or sleep. Seeing this pattern in someone who is awake is quite unique to my knowledge.”
After therapy and drug treatment, Graham has recovered and lives independently, and once again takes pleasure in things he used to enjoy, although he does not feel completely back to normal.
“I’m not afraid of death,” he said. “But that’s not to do with what happened – we’re all going to die sometime. I’m just lucky to be alive now.”