Zombie apocalypse

A few years ago, a woman checked herself into a hospital psychiatric ward.

He needed help she told her doctorsbecause he was terrified of… zombies.

Her doctors did what good doctors do: They used cognitive behavioral therapy to help the woman question her thoughts and fears. Within days, the woman was laughing at her stupidity and was discharged.

It’s possible that zombies are teetering around our world—just not in the ways depicted in popular movies or TV shows.

Real Life Zombies or Buried Alive?

For example, in the late 1990s, Roland Littlewood and Chavan Duyon of University College London traveled to southern Haiti to study a woman who had it is reported has been zombified.

Researchers have named the woman “FI,” who died after developing a fever.

Three years later, however, a friend spotted FI, apparently alive, stumbling and staggering around the village. When FI’s parents dug up her grave, they found no body. Instead, the tomb was filled with stones. Listen to the haunting music.

FI’s family and villagers called her a zombie, but she wasn’t bitten or infected with a virus. Rather, researchers theorized that someone drugged FI with a neuromuscular toxin that paralyzed her, making her appear dead.


After being buried alive, she was deprived of oxygen and suffered brain damage, researchers believe. Her attacker then dug her free and potentially administered datura stramonium (also known as Jimsonweed).

“The use of Datura stramonium […] and its possible repeated administration during the period of zombie slavery may lead to a state of extreme psychological passivity,” the researchers wrote in The lancet.

Here’s the thing: It’s not very clear if the above is really what happened to FI – or any other so-called zombified person. “Misidentification of a wandering, mentally ill stranger by bereaved relatives is the most likely explanation,” the two researchers wrote.

Also, the poison isn’t contagious, which means FI and others like her won’t cause a zombie apocalypse.

Is the zombie virus real?

This happens a lot in movies, doesn’t it? The flu virus mutates, spreads and infects people, turning them into undead, deranged brain-eaters. Is this possible to happen?

Not exactly. To understand why, let’s look at a modern virus that comes closest to zombifying its prey: rabies.


As in the movies, rabies spreads through bites and scratches and also eats away at the brain. When the cerebellum goes off the grid, rabies victims stumble around in an agitated, zombie-like state.

However, rabies patients are not undead – nor do they crave brains. More importantly, modern medicine can prevent the disease.

“It would be hard to imagine a pandemic spreading from people biting each other,” explains Stephen Schlozman, associate professor of psychiatry, pediatrics and medical education at Dartmouth. “Zombies aren’t that fast or coordinated. We can get ahead of this. We can fence them in, study them, and find out what’s wrong with them.

However, zombie movies are not finished works of fiction.

Read more: ‘Zombie’ viruses up to 50,000 years old are awakening

Could a zombie apocalypse happen like in the movies?

They do get some things right, says Schlozman, whose 2011 novel Zombie autopsieswas chosen by George Romero, creator of the Night of the Living Dead series of zombie films.

“Crossovers have less to do with what turns someone into a zombie and more to do with our response to them,” says Schlozman.

Although the film version of Zombie Autopsies was never made, the opening scene would have depicted people getting into a fistfight on a plane while arguing whether or not they should be forced to wear masks.

“George said if this happened, people would argue about it,” says Schlozman. “That was in 2013. Unfortunately, we now know he was right.”

Read more: Five apocalypses that humanity has experienced

Zombie Pandemic Parallels

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, for example, parent made news for punching a teacher because of the masking rules. After Missouri school board approves masking mandatea fist fight ensued.

Here is another common social thread. In zombie movies and TV shows, human cooperation often breaks down. Instead of working together to solve problems, healthy people tend to gather in small tribes, often raiding and warring with other tribes for resources and power.

“In movies, we always see these little arguments about race or class,” Schlozman says.

Likewise during the COVID-19 protesters pasted leaflets with the word “Jew” and a “scam” in Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green’s neighborhood. Racism against Asian Americans jumped more than 300 percent.

“One of the things these movies show is that when we see something that doesn’t suit us, we end up lining up those areas of the brain that are most compatible with zombies,” says Schlozman. “George was a little melancholic about humanity. He said, “We can handle this. The saddest thing about my films is that it doesn’t have to be like this, he always says.

Read more: This is what really inspired the vampire legends

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