Imagine waking up one day and thinking you've died. You look in the mirror and simply don't feel like you exist. I don't mean you feel all alone and disconnected from others or like no one cares about you. You literally don't connect with your own body, mind or soul. It's called Cotard Delusion aka 'Walking Corpse Syndrome'.
Berrios G.E & Luque R, ‘Cotard’s Delusion or Syndrome:
A Conceptual History’, Comprehensive Psychiatry, 36:3 (May/June, 1995), p. 218.
This bizarre condition is named after Jules Cotard, French neurologist. Dr. Cotard's first case in 1880, dubbed as Mademoiselle X in his notes, presented with extraordinarily odd symptoms. "She believed she had ‘no brain, no nerves, no chest, no stomach, no intestines’. In his notes Cotard wrote "she was nothing more than a decomposing body". She believed neither God nor Satan existed, and that she had no soul. As she could not die a natural death, she had ‘no need to eat’. SOURCE
It was explained like this: The brain region involved in facial recognition becomes disconnected from the regions involved in emotion. When the person looks in the mirror, they recognize themselves, but they don't have the usual emotional response. Their appearance has lost its association with their sense of self, and this cognitive dissonance results in the sense that they do not exist, or have died. SOURCE
Madamoiselle X was not the first such person with this disorder. In 1788—nearly 100 years earlier—Charles Bonnet reported the case of an elderly woman who was preparing a meal in her kitchen when a draught ‘struck her forcefully on the neck’ paralyzing her one side ‘as if hit by a stroke’. When she regained the ability to speak, she demanded that her daughters ‘dress her in a shroud and place her in her coffin’ since she was, in fact, dead.
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