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Cotard syndrome


The Cotard ‘s syndrome is a rare mental disorder that is characterized by people who suffer believed to be dead, even to believe that their bodies are rotting or worms are devouring your skin.

The first time that Cotard syndrome was discussed in history was in 1880, during a conference in Paris. It was the French neurologist Jules Cotard who described the case of a patient who flatly denied the existence of both God and the devil; It also did not recognize certain parts of its body and refused to feed. She felt that she was doomed and that she could not die naturally in the short or long term.

What is it?

Cotard syndrome is one of the strangest mental illnesses out there. It is a disorder related to hypochondria that makes those who suffer from it believe that they are dead ; some patients even suffer the putrefaction of their organs. Certain cases of Cotard syndrome are believed to be immortal, incapable of dying.

Patients affected by Cotard syndrome even come to believe that their internal organs have become paralyzed and that they are therefore dead . The vast majority of them even smell unpleasant, rotten meat odors, as well as worms crawling on their skin. The feeling of being dead is 100% real.

In the most extreme cases of this mental disorder, patients come to publicly defend that they are dead, while maintaining the idea that they are immortal and have become a soul that wanders the world.

It is a delusion that occurs especially in people with very severe depressions, as well as psychotic or delusional episodes. However, it can also occur in patients with certain mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. Of course, Cotard syndrome can also occur in people who have used drugs.

Causes of Cotard syndrome

Throughout history there have been numerous studies trying to find out what are the causes of Cotard syndrome. However, today it is not known for sure, although there are two widely accepted theories.

On the one hand, there are those who argue that two factors are necessary for this type of delusion to develop. First, a neurobiological abnormality that alters neuropsychological mechanisms and causes people to start a completely abnormal subjective experience. And secondly, the model of the logical mechanisms that make up the belief evaluation system.


Cotard syndrome gives rise to a series of symptoms that define this disease.

In the first place, patients believe that their body does not exist , so they are experiencing something totally unreal, the fruit of their imagination. Second, it is common to feel the symptoms of death: the body is gradually running out of blood, the organs are rotting …

And thirdly, because they truly believe that they have died, those affected by this mental illness believe that they do not need to eat.

You may also be interested in:   Intermittent Explosive Disorder

Living with Cotard syndrome

Life for patients with Cotard syndrome is extremely complicated. They must live believing that nothing that happens around them makes sense, that they are rotting, and that they are not really alive. In addition, as we have pointed out, sometimes they feel how worms devour their meat or even smell how their own body rots.

People with this mental disorder become real zombies completely oblivious to everything that happens around them, and even disconnect from themselves.

There are some people with Cotard syndrome who are able to express what they are feeling to the people around them, which greatly facilitates treatment.

Therefore, this syndrome causes those who suffer from it to feel like zombies, living an existence that is not such. That is why the vast majority of patients with Cotard syndrome have no fear of death.


There is currently no specific treatment for Cotard syndrome. However, there are a number of universal therapies that are applied successfully to the vast majority of patients.

Psychiatrists point out that the underlying disease must first be treated . Therefore, if patients have a certain mental disorder, such as depression or schizophrenia, this is the first thing to attack.

This is followed by a series of interpersonal therapies and cognitive behavioral psychotherapies.

One of the main problems that patients affected by Cotard syndrome present is that their level of isolation from both their environment and themselves is extreme. Therefore, one of the main goals that psychiatrists pursue with treatment is to rebuild those bridges, so that patients reconnect with themselves and with the people around them.

In some cases, patients recover and can live completely independently; some have pointed out that they even feel alive again. Of course, there are also other cases in which patients feel better, but never get back to normal.

Cotard syndrome cases

Patients affected by this mental disorder have lost both the rational and logical apparatus of their brain. Therefore, episodes of depression, depersonalization, and hallucination are common.

There is a documented case of an 18-year-old girl who came to believe that she had lost her hands and the vast majority of her organs had suddenly stopped working . Furthermore, he firmly believed that the cause of it all was a spell.

Another known case of Cotard syndrome was that of a Filipino woman who had recently immigrated to the United States. She explained that she was dead, that she smelled of rotten meat, and that she wanted to be in a cemetery to be surrounded by other deceased people. This lady admitted during treatment that she often felt hopeless, tired, poor appetite, and sleepy.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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