Zombie Apocalypse – Is It for Real?

First, let’s clarify what a zombie is according to popular culture:

  1. An animated corpse that feeds on living human flesh.
  2. A voodoo spell that raises the dead.
  3. One who moves or acts in a daze “like a zombie.”

The term zombie originated in West Africa, came across to the Caribbean, and spread from there into the Americas.

But are they real???

Let’s take a look at this mystery. News reports lately have scared a lot of people.

  • Eugene Rudy ate the face off a homeless man earlier this week in Miami, FL.
  • Last year, police reported several instances where people were running on the MacArthur Causeway in Miami while being chase by the police. They eventually collapsed and at least one died – all from the effects of the Bath Salts.
  • Police in Canada are searching for a Luka Rocco Magnotta who recently killed a young man with an ice pick, dismembered the body, then raped and ate flesh from the corpse. Then this guy mailed some of the body parts to Ottawa.
  • On Tuesday May 29, a 21 year old man from Maryland allegedly admitted that he dismembered his roommate and ate his heart and brain.
  • On May 30, a 43 year old man from Hackensack, NJ repeatedly stabbed himself in the abdomen, and when police arrived, he threw pieces of his skin and intestines at the police.  He was subdued after being sprayed with 2 cans of pepper spray, and taken to the hospital where he remains in critical condition.

With all the movies made in recent years involving zombies and a zombie apocalypse, it’s no wonder this spate of attacks is making people nervous.

The Real Culprits

Bath Salts

Bath Salts is the nickname for a new form of LSD hitting the streets these days. The head of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police, Armando Aguilar, is certain that drugs were at the root of the cannibalistic attack by Rudy Eugene. He said, “We have seen, already, three or four cases that are exactly like this where some people have admitted taking LSD and it’s no different than cocaine psychosis.”

He further explained that the police have encountered other people who took all their clothes off and became extremely violent with what seems like super-human strength. They also commonly bite people, using their jaws as weapons.

Emergency Room Doctor Paul Adams agreed with Aguilar noting that similar cases have shown up in their ER, “We noticed an increase, probably after Ultra Fest.” He added the new LSD commonly known as Bath Salts can raise a person’s body temperature so high that the individual loses their ability to think logically and loses the ability to feel pain. This is followed by the onset of delirium and that’s when things can get really ugly.

So let’s be clear – this guy did not turn into a zombie. He was driven mad as a result of this terrible drug’s effect on his body.

Mental Illness

Throughout the third world countries (and let’s face it, even in more developed nations), people with serious mental illnesses are left to wander and fend for themselves. They may suffer from schizophrenia or some other psychotic illness that causes them to stare blankly at their surroundings, to be unresponsive, to look disheveled and unkempt, to behave in bizarre ways. People are often afraid of them and attribute their problems to being zombies.

In addition to mental illness, let’s remember that birth defects, systemic illnesses, and other biological problems can also bring on symptoms resulting in a zombie-like effect.

These people are not zombies, they are regular human beings who need medical treatment.

Voodoo Practices

The topic of the voodoo practice of turning a human being into a zombie is complex.  It involves the long-term use of drugs to control the victim, while tying into a sub-culture that operates on Haiti with a mind and rules of its own.

What I’m about to describe to you was learned by Dr. Wade Davis, an ethnobiologist from Harvard, who investigated the zombie phenomenon extensively in the early 1980s.

First a houngan (voodoo priest) “kills” a victim through the use of toad skin and puffer fish chemicals. Their breathing slows as does their heartbeat so that for all intents and purposes, they look and feel dead (no pulse).

Due to the high temperatures and excess humidity in Haiti, burials are performed quickly, so this poor person is buried soon after “dying”. The houngans have eight hours to retrieve them or they will die of asphyxiation.

Once above ground again, the houngan administers a paste made from datura. This chemical breaks the person’s links with reality and destroys recent memories. The zombies are forced to live in a state of semi-permanent induced psychotic delirium. Datura is administered again if they show any signs of recovering.

So these poor people look and act the way we think a typical zombie does. However, they are NOT actually zombies, they are chemically controlled victims.

Social Contagion (Copy Cat Syndrome)

Copy Cat Syndrome (or crime) is defined as a criminal act that is modeled or inspired by a previous crime that has been reported in the media or described in fiction. It refers to the tendency where people commit the same sensational crimes/violent murders/etc. that they’ve read about or seen in the news.

We just had a bunch of horrible, cannibalistic crimes reported in the news recently. If you see or hear news of further, seemingly related crimes, remember this syndrome. For people who are already psychotic, drugged up, or pathological, these stories could be the trigger to make them “act out”.

It does not mean that there are hoards of people about to come for your brains.

Don’t Join the Bandwagon

There’s another psychological trend that we could all fall prey to: social contagion. In a blog for the Psychology 1001 course at the University of Minnesota, social contagion is described as the imitative behavior of human beings where a mood spreads from one person to another.

Don’t let the “zombie apocalypse” fever currently circulating all media these days sweep you away. As I’ve tried to explain in this post, there are real biological, chemical, and in the Haitian case, environmental/social causes for turning people into what we think of as classic zombies.

They aren’t real.

Now relax, and I’ll work on finding a creature or something that IS real for a change of pace! LOL!!

Til the next time!

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