First interview with a dead man
2013 05 23
By Helen Thomson | NewScientist
Condition: Cotardís syndrome
"When I was in hospital I kept on telling them that the tablets werenít going to do me any good ícause my brain was dead. I lost my sense of smell and taste. I didnít 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."
Nine years ago, Graham woke up and discovered he was dead.
He was in the grip of Cotardís syndrome. People with this rare condition believe that they, or parts of their body, no longer exist.
For Graham, it was his brain that was dead, and he believed that he had killed it. Suffering from severe depression, he had tried to commit suicide by taking an electrical appliance with him into the bath.
Eight months later, he told his doctor his brain had died or was, at best, missing. "Itís really hard to explain," he says. "I just felt like my brain didnít exist anymore. I kept on telling the doctors that the tablets werenít going to do me any good because I didnít have a brain. Iíd fried it in the bath."
Doctors found trying to rationalise with Graham was impossible. Even as he sat there talking, breathing Ė living Ė he could not accept that his brain was alive. "I just got annoyed. I didnít know how I could speak or do anything with no brain, but as far as I was concerned I hadnít got one."
Baffled, they eventually put him in touch with neurologists Adam Zeman at the University of Exeter, UK, and Steven Laureys at the University of LiŤge in Belgium.
"Itís the first and only time my secretary has said to me: íItís really important for you to come and speak to this patient because heís telling me heís dead,í" says Laureys.
"He was a really unusual patient," says Zeman. Grahamís belief "was a metaphor for how he felt about the world Ė his experiences no longer moved him. He felt he was in a limbo state caught between life and death".
No one knows how common Cotardís syndrome may be. A study published in 1995 of 349 elderly psychiatric patients in Hong Kong found two with symptoms resembling Cotardís (General Hospital Psychiatry, DOI: 10.1016/0163-8343(94)00066-M). But with successful and quick treatments for mental states such as depression Ė the condition from which Cotardís appears to arise most often Ė readily available, researchers suspect the syndrome is exceptionally rare today. Most academic work on the syndrome is limited to single case studies like Graham.
Some people with Cotardís have reportedly died of starvation, believing they no longer needed to eat. Others have attempted to get rid of their body using acid, which they saw as the only way they could free themselves of being the "walking dead".
Grahamís brother and carers made sure he ate, and looked after him. But it was a joyless existence. "I didnít want to face people. There was no point," he says, "I didnít feel pleasure in anything. I used to idolise my car, but I didnít go near it. All the things I was interested in went away."
Visiting a graveyard was "the closest I could get to death", Graham says
Even the cigarettes he used to relish no longer gave him a hit. "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 didnít even really have any thoughts. Everything was meaningless."
A peek inside Grahamís brain provided Zeman and Laureys with some explanation. They used positron emission tomography to monitor metabolism across his brain. It was the first PET scan ever taken of a person with Cotardís (Cortex, DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2013.03.003).
What they found was shocking: metabolic activity across large areas of the frontal and parietal brain regions was so low that it resembled that of someone in a vegetative state.
Read the full article at: newscientist.com
The world that only formerly-blind people can see
Brain Development Is Guided by Junk DNA that Isnít Really Junk
Stanford team creates transparent brain
Obama launches research initiative to study human brain
University creates first wireless, implanted brain-computer interface
Fractal Minds and the Sacred Cosmology : Neuroscience & Psychology meets Esoteric Religion
Breaking Out of the Prisons of the Mind
Latest News from our Front Page
Prehistoric Underwater Wall Divides Scientists
2013 12 11
Two camps of scientists have faced off on the issue of the underwater structure known as Bimini Road off the coast of the Bahamas since it was first discovered in 1968.
One camp says it is a 12,000Ė19,000-year-old man-made structureóflouting the conventional understanding that advanced civilizations only emerged some 5,000 years ago.
The other camp says it is a natural formation.
Author, Researcher Lloyd Pye Dies
2013 12 10
Weíre grieved by the sad news that writer and researcher Lloyd Anthony Pye passed away yesterday, December 9, 2013, after a battle with cancer. He was best known for his work with The Starchild Project.
Lloyd was a frequent welcome guest to Red Ice Radio, and we enjoyed the opportunity to speak with him about his work and his writing over ...
Mars May Have Harbored Life 3.6 Billion Years Ago
2013 12 10
Mudstones from Gale Crater, the original landing site of Curiosity, were formed in a lake which may have existed on the planet for hundreds of thousand of years according to scientists.The basin which is 150km wide with a mountain at its centre, could very well have sustained more than one lake approximately 3.6 billion years ago.
Research analysis shows that the ...
Geologists discover ísuper volcanoí in Utah, possibly larger than Yellowstone
2013 12 10
Geologists at Brigham Young University have discovered what may be the worldís largest "super" volcano that erupted in Utahís own backyard.
While there are a variety of volcanoes that blast away in different ways, super volcanic eruptions are the biggest that collapse into large calderas. Yellowstone Park is the remains of one of those calderas and itís still very much alive ...
Rice grown near crippled Fukushima nuclear plant served to govt officials
2013 12 10
Rice from fields in the Fukushima prefecture, evacuated after the worst nuclear disaster in Japan, will be served to government officials for 9 days in a bid to demonstrate the safety of the countryís most-beloved crop, a local broadcaster reported.
The rice cultivated in several decontaminated fields in the Yamakiya District in Kawamata Town and Iitate Village, two areas designated as ...
|More News Ľ |