Early Report of Cotard Delusion


One of the first reported cases of Cotard Delusion was on 1788. It was reported by Charles Bonnet.  An old woman, who was preparing a meal on their kitchen at that time, felt a draught on her neck that paralyzed one side of her body (a sign which is similar to a stroke).  When she was able to regain back her ability to speak, she told her daughters that she should be dressed in shroud immediately and demanded to place her in a casket because she told them that she is already dead.  The account states:
 [T]he ‘dead woman’ became agitated and began to scold her friends vigorously for their negligence in not offering her this last service; and as they hesitated even longer, she became extremely impatient, and began to press her maid with threats to dress her as a dead person. Eventually everybody thought it was necessary to dress her like a corpse and to lay her out in order to calm her down. The old lady tried to make herself look as neat as possible, rearranging tucks and pins, inspecting the seam of her shroud, and was expressing dissatisfaction with the whiteness of her linen. In the end she fell asleep, and was then undressed and put into bed. 
A physician tried to break the hex that the old woman was into by powdering a special stone and then mixing it with opium.  After sometime, the old woman was able to regain back her sanity and realize that she was in fact alive.  But after a mere three months her delusion of being dead came back and haunted her for the rest of her life.


During the instance that she thought she is dead, the old woman would often talk to those people who has long been gone and prepare a dinner.  It’s as if the old woman was hosting a dinner for those dearly departed.

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