Zombie as a Mental Sickness

Over the past few years we’ve seen an upswing in zombie popularity. The TV show The Walking Dead, based on the popular comic book series by Robert Kirkman, is going to be renewed for a fourth season. Warm Bodies, based on Isaac Marion’s novel, a comedy about a romance between a zombie and a human was probably the best film to be released during cinema’s “dead period” of February, and this summer we can expect the release of another zombie film based on a novel (Max Brooks’ to be exact): World War Z. Finally, the video game I am probably most excited about this year, The Last Of Us, is all about a post-apocalyptic zombie world.

I myself got swept up in the zombie crazy during college when I began playing an intense game of tag known simply as Humans Vs. Zombies. Recently the game has spread to several college campuses and other places like camps or even military bases, but it all started at my Alma Mater Goucher College, which is something I take a bit of pride in. I have to say up until I played that game I didn’t really “get” the whole appeal of zombies. As it turns out, there is nothing quite so terrifying as being hunted down by roving backs of people, and I have to say, the game (if you take it seriously and get into it) is probably the greatest adrenaline rush you can have without being in any sort of real danger. For some of my personal in-game exploits, you can check out this wonderful YouTube clip.

But while many people like to spend time coming up with zombie apocalypse contingency plans (and trust me, I have several), the idea of the dead rising up to take over the Earth is pretty farfetched. Still, according to a little video I found on the Discovery News, zombies might be real. Apparently there is a mental condition called “Cotard’s Syndrome” or “Walking Dead Syndrome” wherein the patient thinks he or she is dead. It is a rare condition and mostly occurs in people with depression or schizophrenia. How this affects people seems to vary, as some patients are recorded as believing they are immortal while others think they are just dead (one such patient was incredibly anxious that he hadn’t been buried, since he was convinced he was dead).

In terms of writing, I think a character with this condition might be fascinating to write. And in this wave of zombie-apocalypse-mania, taking a different tact on the approach to zombie storytelling might result in a fun stand-out tale.

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One thought on “Zombie as a Mental Sickness

  1. “…wherein the patient thinks he or she is dead.” Funny, I call that “Did Not Get My Morning Caffeine Syndrome” :p

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