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Night of the Living Dead: Three Real Syndromes Straight From the Movies

Updated on November 18, 2017
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Rebecca is a certified Medical Assistant fascinated with the strange and unusual.

We all know that vampires, zombies, and werewolves don't roam the streets. However, there are a small percent of people suffering from syndromes that share the same name as these Hollywood horrors. While no one is going to drink your blood or try to eat your brains, there are those who bear ailments reminiscent of fascinating fiction. These syndromes are so rare that you may never meet a sufferer personally.

Werewolf Syndrome

Werewolves only come out during the full moon, changing from man to beast.They uncontrollably run around the countryside eating humans. At least, that's what Hollywood would have us believe. The real life syndrome, called congenital hypertrichosis, comes without the claws, fangs, and ravenous appetite. Rather, those who suffer from this rare genetic condition have extra hair over their faces and bodies. Sadly, the congenital form of hypertrichosis comes with other ailments, such as deformations, intellectual delay, or epilepsy.

Sufferers of this condition were once put on display as spectacles for the general public. A Mexican woman was paraded around the country with a circus and dubbed, "The Monkey Woman". Sufferers are still ridiculed today because the syndrome is so rare that people react badly upon seeing it for the first time.

The Sangli Sisters from India
The Sangli Sisters from India | Source

Modern Day Werewolves

Vampire Disease

The legend of the vampire goes back to Vlad the Impaler, who is rumored to have placed the heads of his enemies on spikes on the front lawn to warn others. Since then, Hollywood has created a monster who likes blood, and who kills humans by sinking long teeth into the flesh of the neck. The vampire is also sensitive to light, preferring to sleep all day and find victims at night.

Sufferers of the Vampire Disease, or porphyria, do not crave blood. Instead, they have light-sensitive skin, urinate a reddish color, and have sunken gums, giving the appearance of protruding vampire-like teeth. The condition is inherited, and is the buildup of too much porphyrin in the blood. Porphyrin affects the hemoglobin production in the body.

The two types of porhyria are acute, affecting the nervous system, and cutaneous, mainly affecting the skin.

Vlad the Impaler
Vlad the Impaler


Zombies have become an American subculture through video games and television programs. Everyone wants to fight the undead, while the undead simply want to eat a human's organs. Hollywood has romanticized zombies, but sufferers of Cotard's Syndrome, or Walking Dead disease, find it anything but fascinating.

This is a mental condition, and people truly believe they are dead or missing different body parts. It is extremely rare, but extremely dangerous. One reported case ended in death when a woman believed she didn't need to eat because she was dead. Since there are so few cases worldwide, many psychologists do not know how to work with sufferers. These people don't want to attack others, but they do tend to make fatal mistakes because they honestly believe they are dead.

Man Diagnosed with Walking Dead Disease



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