A neuropsychiatric analysis of the Cotard delusion

Aradhana Sahoo, Keith A. Josephs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Cotard’s syndrome, a condition in which the patient denies his or her own existence or the existence of body parts, is a rare illness that has been reported in association with several neuropsychiatric diagnoses. The majority of published literature on the topic is in the form of case reports, many of which are several years old. The authors evaluated associated diagnoses, neuroimaging, and treatments recorded in patients diagnosed with Cotard’s syndrome at their institution. A search of the Mayo Clinic database for patients with mention of signs and symptoms associated with Cotard’s in their records between 1996 and 2016 was conducted. The electronic medical records of the identified patients were then reviewed for evidence of a true diagnosis of Cotard’s. Clinical and neuroimaging data were also recorded for these patients. The search identified 18 patients, 14 of whom had Cotard delusions. Two of the 14 were excluded due to them being under age 18. The resulting 12 patients had amedian age of 52 years (range: 30-85 years). On neuroimaging, four patients exhibited frontal lobe changes, four demonstrated generalized volume loss, and five had ischemic changes; seven patients demonstrated right-sided or bilateral hemisphere lesions. Treatments included ECT, pharmacotherapy, behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, rehydration, and removal of offending drugs. To conclude, Cotard delusions occur in the context of a relatively wide spectrum of neurological, psychiatric, and medical disorders and present with various neural changes. Nondominant hemisphere lesions may play a role in the pathophysiology. A number of effective treatments are available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-65
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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