A Rare Disease Made This Woman Believe She Was Dead


A Rare Disease Made This Woman Believe She Was Dead

In 2013, a San Franciscan woman named, Esme Weijun Wang, informed her husband that she was dead. Wang had been feeling mentally unwell for several weeks. After considering how she felt, she came to the conclusion that she had died a month before. Wang believed her death occurred while she was on an international flight where she shifted in an out of consciousness many times.

Made This Woman Believe She Was Dead

Wang’s story may seem strange, but she was suffering from a rare disease called Cotard’s syndrome. Cotard’s syndrome, also known as walking corpse syndrome, can take many forms. Some patients, like Mrs. Wang, believe they are dead. Others believe they have lost some or all of their organs, blood, various body parts, or their soul. This relatively rare condition was first recorded in 1882 by Dr. Jules Cotard.

That day in 2013 was the day Wang decided she was dead. She believed she had been dead for the last month, but she had not realized until then. She also said she was not initially worried about being dead. She saw it as an opportunity to make changes and improvements to her life. After weeks of living on autopilot she began to feel like she was in some sort of purgatory, or hell. That is when her situation began to torment her. She spent her days trying to understand what she had done wrong. She constantly reflected on her life and scanned it for any large sins she had committed that would cause her to become trapped like this. She saw no way out of her mental prison.


Doctors have researched Cotard’s syndrome and have divided it into Cotard’s Type 1 and Cotard’s Type 2. Patients with Cotard’s Type 2 typically have depression, anxiety, and auditory hallucinations; whereas patients with Cotard’s Type 1 do not possess affective disorders. Those who struggle with Cotard’s Type 1 tend to be battling more of a delusion than a disorder. Even with all of this research, doctors are still unsure what exactly causes Cotard’s syndrome. They do believe that people with neuropsychiatric disorders or traumatic brain injuries are more likely to develop the disease. Older patients with these conditions are at a greater risk. Wang had been diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder earlier in 2013, the year of the incident. However, Mrs. Wang is only 32 years of age.

Esme Wang’s disorder lifted just two months after it began, and it seems to have gone away on its own. Wang did not even realize it was gone until someone informed her that she had been acting differently. Wang considered her own behavior and realized she did not feel dead anymore. To her amazement, she felt truly alive!

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Wang’s disease disappeared as mysteriously as it arrived, but many other patients struggling with Cotard’s syndrome rely on treatment to improve. The hope of treatment is one of very few bright spots in this terrifying condition. Over time, most patients find that they feel alive again after they receive treatment for the original condition that led them to feel dead in the first place. Cotard’s Type 2 is easier to treat than Cotard’s Type 1, but both forms of this syndrome can be cured in most cases.

Womenshealthmag.com   Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

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