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 Marcia Purse

Walking Corpse Syndrome

By October 28, 2013

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I was startled to find out that there actually is a condition called "Walking Corpse" Syndrome. People with Cotard's Delusion have firm beliefs such as that they are missing body parts, are bloodless, that their bodies are rotting, or that they have lost their souls or are dead.

The delusions of this very rare condition may be a sign of the onset of bipolar disorder. One study found a high correlation between bipolar and Cotard's in a group of young people. Cotard's Syndrome has also been associated with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder and dementia. It may also be caused by such things as lesions of the brain.

I found a case study where a woman "was complaining that she was dead, smelled like rotting flesh, and wanted to be taken to a morgue so that she could be with dead people." Another case described the patient as follows: "She said she couldn't think because she had no thoughts. She had no thoughts because she had no brain. She couldn't talk because she had no words. She couldn't eat because she produced no saliva in her mouth."

There is no preferred treatment for Cotard's. Some patients respond to antidepressants, some to antipsychotics, some to mood stabilizers or a mixture of drugs. Other patients do best with electroconvulsive therapy.

Patients with "Walking Corpse" Syndrome can be a danger to themselves, like the woman above who "couldn't eat" and lost 13 pounds in two months. So while the name may sound funny - the condition definitely is not.

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November 1, 2010 at 4:39 pm
(1) touchingsoulsintl says:

If there is no preferred treatment for Cotard’s, some patients respond to antidepressants, some to anti psychotics, some to mood stabilizers or a mixture of drugs. Other patients do best with electroconvulsive therapy. By the time a treatment plan is found they might loose lots of weight for not being able to eat.

November 8, 2010 at 1:20 am
(2) robii says:

I never heard of that illness before, but before I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder I had episodes where I felt like my soul was trying to get out of my body. That was so scarry to me. I thought I was dying. Like my spirit was being pulled out of my body. I never want to go through that again.

October 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm
(3) hopeless says:

I certainly don’t feel as if I have limbs missing. However, I feel as if I am so depleted. Death looks good to me.

October 16, 2012 at 10:05 pm
(4) hopeless says:

I certainly don’t feel as if I have limbs missing. However, I feel as if I am so depleted. Death looks good to me.

December 31, 2012 at 1:18 am
(5) JOn says:

I once read about a man who thought he had died and was wandering in the land of the dead. Some time after he became psychotic in this way he went to South Africa, and the hotness of that part of the world caused him to believe he had actually entered Hell.

January 8, 2013 at 1:52 am
(6) Bob says:

Dear Hopeless, have you found help yet? There are many resources available. Don’t give up. I hope you are feeling better now. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

February 26, 2013 at 8:29 am
(7) Thuy says:

Im feeling it right now. Like my brain is dead. There was a time i felt my brain collapsed. I cant feel emotions anymore. I cant feel the sun the music . Everything is empty to me. Like i dun have a spiritual world. Just me and things around me. Nothing in my mind. I dun wanna be like this but its too late. I feel as if this were my afterlife where i watch everyone have their lives but cant have mine. There is no connection with who i was snd nothing to look forward. Im dead. I want help but in my country noone knows about my case.

March 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm
(8) Lidya says:

I really helped the idea to death that I will not avoid eventually going to happen. I decided that I wanted to see exactly how and what will it fare in all my life. I live my life once and for death has time.

March 26, 2013 at 1:40 pm
(9) Lidya says:

I really helped the idea to death that I will not avoid eventually going to happen. I decided that I wanted to see exactly how and what will it fare in all my life. I live my life once and for death has time.:)

October 29, 2013 at 8:47 pm
(10) Lani says:

A frustrated friend of mine with paranoid schizophrenia used to say that she was not in her body. Some religious people tried to pray it out of her or explain that what she said wasn’t possible and psychologists reminded her that feelings “aren’t always true”. She couldn’t muster new vocabulary to express it and wore out the phrases “I’m not in my body” and “I’m alone”. She would throw it into conversations as fact despite no one understanding or agreeing. When sharing information unreservedly she’d say “I probably wouldn’t be telling you this right now if I was in my body” or “because I’m alone I can’t explain it properly”. My friend took ample opportunites to ask people if they could relate and got excited one day when she read something about a condition that included disorientation as a symptom because the phrasing pertained to people not knowing where they are. Confused by the wording, she was upset when a therapist told her she did not have the condition, insisting “It says they don’t know where they are. I don’t know where I am!” One day I asked her to give more detail because I just didn’t know how to help. She told me that during some trauma when she was little she thinks she came out of her body, and that ever since, she has been alone. With my own depression, I related to aloneness as a deep emotional issue but she couldn’t acknowledge that it was a strong feeling as opposed to a finite fact. She believed it was true as though some mystic force were holding her prisoner elsewhere and she was left with her body, unable to connect with the world. She sometimes related it to seeing; her phrase would be “I’m alone outside my eyes”. She told me “sometimes I just think it’s an eyesight problem – maybe I should have my eyes checked”, “It’s like the rest of the world is on the other side of my eyes and I can’t reach them” and “I don’t know how else to explain it. When I look outside of my eyes, I’m alone.” I feel awful that I was not able to help at the time.

October 29, 2013 at 11:57 pm
(11) Carecanada says:

Night after night I would wake up thinking that I was dead and/or dying and scream in the night. I would wake up partially as I was “dying.” I would also sleepwallk in this dead or dying state.. It was scary but once I became fully awake I would realize I was not dead finally and go back to bed. My doctor told me how to get over it: I thought I was dead or dying because I had not taken the right medication over a period of weeks and months. So I had to line up my medication and say aloud that these are the right medications, not too much or not too little. I was compliant about medication but in my subconscious mind I was conflicted and worried about medication. I also would chew the pills and say “This is the right medication.” So I would hear, taste, feel, and say that it was the right medication. And I no longer felt I was dead or dying or screamed in the night until I relapsed and was hospitalized briefly . I know that is not like walking around all day thinking you are dead. But it was very real at the time to be “dead” and/or “dying. in the night. I don’t know for how long.each night. Thank God I got over it.

October 30, 2013 at 7:50 am
(12) Christine, England says:

Such a relief to find this info: I can finally broach the subject with my psychiatrist now I know the name of this delusion, that it occurs in my diagnosis of Bipolar 1 – I thought id been misdiagnosed – that I had schizophrenia or dementia instead, and if I told Dr I’d get Sectioned under the Mental Health Act (ie,hospitalized)… When I’m severely depressed, I reach a point, just before I become psychotic, where I feel dead, physically dead, like my insides are rotting and liquefying, my blood is clotting and turning black, silting up my arteries, that my brain is dessicating, drying and shrivelling up and that my blue- white skin is not merely pale because I never go outside, but because I’m either cyanosed or turning into a ghost. I often feel like I’m a ghost, in fact – even at milder levels of depression, and also in mania, though in mania its more of a “reincarnated” feeling. Its very distressing – I worry that I’m not supposed to be amongst living people, that I’ll scare children, or be “found out” as dead and buried while still conscious. Or worse, that I’ll be like that forever, never quite dead enough to be buried. It feels so REAL! – my mind knows academically it cannot be true, but I cannot dismiss the feeling as it nags away and keeps cropping up in dreams and thoughts every day. I drown myself in perfume cos I’m worried about people being offended by the “rotting” smell that I can detect all the time – though this is probably simple self-neglect when I’m very depressed – I also smell burning-type smells at these times too, which sets me worrying that I will be cremated whilst only “half-dead” but still awake and aware. Its a truly horrible, creepy feeling that I’m neither alive nor properly dead. I dread ever feeling it again and its so great that now I can be open telling my doctor and psych nurse about it. Thanks Marcia and “About”! Love from Christine, age. 44 in England.(UK).

October 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm
(13) Richard Rickman-Smith says:

i have experienced this and i know how to get better from it. this time round i used science and belief to get better and the willingness never to surrender. i was aware that i was normal deep down but i was experiencing everything. and “i knew id been here before” this was shortly after i felt like ending it like nirvana guy. “something in the way” experiencing same delusions and hormonal confusions drug free minus depakote and nicotine patches on my back with lack of sleep and to much computer. the order is wrong now because i can’t be bothered I’m on a bright screen in the dark after a manik day I’ve had epalim and 4mg diaz toaday. was cracking earlier as thought my e-cigg juice would run out but managed to get some. i had patch i found on for a day. lucky patch . strange but true. shit man just discovered something now. :) I always get better no matter what. I’m alive today well and truly. peace via osx mavericks

November 14, 2013 at 2:36 pm
(14) ramesh says:

never felt that extreme…but the low phase in bipolar is nothing but like deflated balloon

I liv only six moths a year!!!!!!!!

November 14, 2013 at 2:46 pm
(15) ramesh says:

dear Marcia
wat a brite smile

pl keep a reply option to the comments so that we can interact wid our fellow souls

god bless u dear
giv us courage to fight n liv in this heartless wrld

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