Tuesday, July 2, 2013


Graham Harrison, 57, was diagnosed with a very rare mental illness called Cotard's Syndrome. It's also known as "Walking Corpse" syndrome, because the afflicted believe they are in fact dead.  Other symptoms include the belief that some or all of their internal organs no longer exist or are putrifying, and paradoxically, even their brain is missing.  The sufferer continues to function, but a damaged part of their brain (called the fusiform gyrus) causes them to, among other things, be unable to recognize faces-- even their own.
After botching a suicide attempt by electrocuting himself, Harrison began to feel he had actually succeeded, and was in fact dead (even though he was still walking around).
Harrison took to hanging out in his local cemetery because:
'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.'
Baffled doctors put Graham in touch with neurologist Steven Laureys at the University of Leige, in Belgium.
Mr Laureys said:
'It's the first and only time my secretary has said to me, "It's really important for you to come and speak to this patient because he's telling me he's dead. I've been analyzing 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.'
'Graham's brain function resembled that of someone during anesthesia or sleep.'
It took years of psychotherapy and drug treatments, and Graham can thankfully say that he at least no longer feels like he is a zombie.
Cotard's Syndrome is definitely a mental illness, but one with very specific characteristics-- and ones that are of interest to ZRS.  Additional study may be warranted.


  1. wow... i guess that is all anyone can say

  2. I... kinda get it. I really do. I have these days, even weeks that go by that I am sure that I am not really there. Not dead, per say, but I don't feel connected. I am convinced that my body is in a coma, and what I am experiencing must be in my head. Now I don't feel so strange about. Kinda comforting that he got help and recovered.