First interview with a dead man
2013-05-23 0:00

By Helen Thomson | NewScientist



Name: Graham
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.

Limbo state

"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."

Low metabolism

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



Related Articles
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

ABC Is Hiding Details of Killer Vester Flanagan's Manifesto ...(Must Be Littered With Liberal Propaganda)
2015-08-29 3:45
Killer Vester Flanagan was a big Obama supporter. But, you’d never know it from the liberal media. The media is hiding Flanagan’s political leanings from the American public. ABC has yet to release Flanagan’s manifesto. It must be littered with embarrassing liberal propaganda. The Tatler reported, via Instapundit: Two days ago, ABC News reported that Vester Flanagan, the murderer of two WDBJ employees, sent a 23-page ...
Austria, Libya count dead as number of migrants crossing Mediterranean soars
2015-08-29 1:37
Austria said on Friday 71 refugees including a baby girl were found dead in an abandoned freezer truck, while Libya recovered the bodies of 82 migrants washed ashore after their overcrowded boat sank on its way to Europe and scores more were feared dead. The U.N. refugee agency said the number of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean to reach Europe ...
Financial Times Calls For Abolishing Cash
2015-08-29 1:07
liminating physical currency necessary to give central banks more power The Financial Times has published an anonymous article which calls for the abolition of cash in order to give central banks and governments more power. Entitled The case for retiring another ‘barbarous relic’, the article laments the fact that people are stockpiling cash in anticipation of another economic collapse, a factor which ...
Serbian government bans anti-mass immigration protests, and plans ahead for mass immigration
2015-08-29 1:52
Nebojsa Stefanovic, Serbia’s Interior Minister said protesters who are concerned about “an EU plan” to settle thousands of illegal immigrants into the country, will not be allowed to voice their concerns in a protest march on Monday, 31st of August. “We will not allow the expression of intolerance and hatred to be something that is characteristic of Serbia” said Stefanovic. “The Ministry ...
Germany asks Facebook to remove 'racist' anti-migrant posts
2015-08-28 20:32
Heiko Maas, Germany's justice minister, says social network should remove xenophobic posts in the same way it deals with nudity Germany is calling on Facebook to remove “xenophobic and racist” anti-migrant posts from its website and apps. Heiko Maas, the German justice minister, has written to the company to demand an urgent review of its policy over hate messages. “Photos of certain ...
More News »