Cotard's Syndrome Triggered by Fear in a Patient with Intellectual Disability: Causal or Casual Link?

Fabrizio Sottile, Rosaria De Luca, Lilla Bonanno, Giuseppina Finzi, Carmela Casella, Rocco Salvatore Calabrò

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cotard's syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disease characterized by a variety of nihilistic delusions, commonly associated with several psychotic and major affective disorders, and neurological diseases, including stroke, dementia, and mental retardation. A 39-year-old male with mental retardation developed Cotard's syndrome, following an important episode of fear. During admission to our neurological unit, the patient underwent an accurate assessment, including neuroradiological, clinical, and neuropsychological examinations. At the psychiatric evaluation, he presented nihilistic delusions, in which he negated the existence of his body parts and the existence of his family members. The neuropsychological assessment ruled out other possible causes of misidentification, including the post-traumatic stress disorder. Thus, since also organic causes of Cotard's syndrome were excluded, the correlation between fear and the syndrome has been postulated and the patient opportunely treated, using a multidisciplinary approach. Our case suggests that in predisposed individuals negative emotions, including fear, may lead to delusional syndromes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)353-356
Number of pages4
JournalIssues in Mental Health Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Adult
  • Delusions/psychology
  • Fear
  • Humans
  • Intellectual Disability/psychology
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders/etiology
  • Syndrome


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