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
Govít Fear Factory: ISIS Is Here, Just in Time for Another 9/11 Anniversary
2014 08 23
The government has been doing a whole lot of talking lately about the 9/11-style threat ISIS poses on American soil, how ISIS is like ínothing the Pentagon has ever seení and how ISIS is likely already here... and all just in time right before another 9/11 anniversary! Fancy that.
Considering itís on record where ISIS got a lot of its military ...
France delivered arms to Syrian rebels, Hollande confirms
2014 08 22
President Francois Hollande said on Thursday that France had delivered weapons to rebels battling the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad ďa few months ago.Ē
The deliveries took place ďa few months ago, when the Syrian rebels had to face both the armies of the dictator Bashar al-Assad and this terrorist group Islamic State,Ē Hollande told reporters on a tour of the ...
Brooklyn DA exposes hidden Child Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Jewish Community
2014 08 22
Comment: We all know that the sex abuse cases within the Catholic church have been plastered all over the media in the last 6-8 years, but when do you ever hear about the rapes, sexual molestation and child sex abuse cases within the jewish orthodox community? Is the media helping to cover it? Will they give the same treatment of ...
Californiaís Economic Collision Course: Immigration and Water
2014 08 22
You have heard it before: ďAs California goes, so goes the nation.Ē If that is the case, the national economy will be harmed for decades to come because of Californiaís misplaced priorities today. Indeed, by emphasizing high-speed rail over water and failing to deal with its debt crisis, California poses a long-term threat to our national economy and ...
ISIS offered to swap Foley for íLady Al Qaedaí - neuroscientist MIT-graduate
2014 08 21
An MIT-educated neuroscientist terrorist known as íLady al Qaedaí was named on a ílaundry listí of demands from ISIS captors holding James Foley named, it was revealed today.
Petite mother-of-three Aafia Siddiqui is currently serving 86 years in a Texas jail after being arrested with plans for a ímass casualty attackí in the US, including infecting people with Ebola and a ...
|More News Ľ |