Zombies and Mental Illness

Zombies are undead eating machines. They kill, consume and hunt for victims. They have an insatiable appetite. Their goals are simple. Kill and eat. Is it a wonder zombies have a reputation of being one of the most feared creatures in Horror?

The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead

Monday Mayhem has always been about the other side of madness. It will always be about zombies, aliens and the craziness attached to an apocalypse or invasion. In short, Monday Mayhem is more about humanity’s reaction to perceived threats than anything else is that may prompt discussion.

In that vein, let’s discuss the similarities between zombie behaviors and known mental illnesses.

First off, let’s get one thing out of the way. I’m not saying those with mental illness are zombies or represent the undead. I’m simply outlining traits I’ve noticed in zombies that also appear in those suffering from mental illness. I have the highest respect for those stricken in such a terrible fashion, and I wish nothing but the best support and aid for their full recovery.

Schizophrenia—Definition from Wikipedia:

“Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a breakdown in thinking and poor emotional responses. Common symptoms include delusions, such as paranoia; hearing voices or noises that are not there; disorganized thinking; a lack of emotion and a lack of motivation.”

Zombies tend to roam around aimlessly for long periods without accomplishing much. They need an external stimulus such as a human scent for them to press forward with a goal. They lack emotion when wandering about in their dormant state.

Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)—Definition from Wikipedia:

Narcissus by Caravaggio. Gazing at his own reflection.
Narcissus by Caravaggio. Gazing at his own reflection.

“Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is a personality disorder in which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and to others in the process.”

Zombies are self-centered monsters with nothing on their mind other than themselves. They can’t see the destruction they cause when they’re on the hunt for victims to satiate their selfish appetite. Once they find a victim, they’ll consume them until there’s nothing left of their soul.

Major depressive disorder (MDD)—Definition from Wikipedia:

“Major depressive disorder (MDD) (also known as clinical depression, major depression, unipolar depression, or unipolar disorder; or as recurrent depression in the case of repeated episodes) is a mental disorder characterized by a pervasive and persistent low mood that is accompanied by low self-esteem and by a loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities.”

Zombies by nature are dark. Their mood ranges from gloomy to brooding. They’re dead inside. They’re a shell of their former selves. In spite of frequent kills, when they don’t have what they want, they withdraw into themselves. They lack joy.

Bipolar disorder—Definition from Wikipedia:

“Bipolar disorder (also known as bipolar affective disorder, manic-depressive disorder, or manic depression) is a mental illness typically classified as a mood disorder. It is characterized by episodes of an elevated or agitated mood known as mania, usually alternating with episodes of depression. These episodes can impair the individual’s ability to function in ordinary life.”

Zombies have wild mood swings. Their highs originate from the thrill of chasing and catching their victims. Once they lack a victim to destroy, they shut down into a state of moaning. They lack balance in their lives.

These mental illnesses immediately caught my attention in regards to similar behavior patterns in zombies. I could have also listed Avoidant personality disorder, Perfectionism, and Münchausen syndrome, but for lack of space and time, I did not.

I feel sorry for the zombies because they have no control over how they act or feel. One minute they’re quiet and the next they’re out to destroy anyone getting in their way. In their world, they’re the only ones that matter.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Can you think of other mental illnesses that correlate with behaviors zombies exhibit?

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15 thoughts on “Zombies and Mental Illness

  1. Great post, I like the comparisons. Got me wondering what else could come with..but I do like the ADD mentioned by Charles at the top…I agree, a ‘OOO shiny’ moment always for zombies.

  2. I think that generally Zombies are used to show our primal instincts. They aren’t mentally ill, they’ve just become complete consumers. Greed is basically their illness and they strive to fulfill that basic need

  3. This is the best blog post I have ever read because it was creative, about zombies, and contained a ton of research. This was informative and changed the way I will blog from now on.

  4. Lol this made me laugh, definitely a light hearted and interesting way to examine both zombies and mental illness. Another comparison that works remarkably well is zombies and drunk people. No? 😛

  5. Some times they can be a little Attention Deficient Disorder. They get distracted by louder noises or people waving for their attention. Thinking of ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and any other movie were somebody acts as bait even when all of the humans are out in the open. Seems no zombie decides to continue going for those who are standing still.

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