The syndrome of Cotard: an overview
background There is increasing controversy about whether psychiatric illnesses should be divided into categories. One of the reasons is that such a categorial system, by its very nature, cannot provide a detailed description of specific psychopathological symptoms. A patient with Cotard's syndrome, for instance, is characterised by a nihilistic delusion relating to his own body and the syndrome does not fit into any one category. We report on a case of Cotard's syndrome encountered at our clinic.
aim To provide an overview of the characteristics of Cotard's syndrome, including its history, phenomenology, pathogenesis and treatment.
method A Medline search was conducted for the period 1980-2006 using the search term 'Cotard$'. This resulted in 68 publications, of which 18 were not used. Cross-references were used as well.
results Cotard's syndrome cannot be fitted unambiguously into any one category of the current classification system. Current evidence regarding Cotard's syndrome is based mainly on case studies and therefore no clarity can be obtained about the various aspects of the syndrome, such as prevalence, pathogenesis, treatment.