Nine years ago in Britain, a man known only as Graham began to suffer the indomitable suspicion that he was dead.
Diagnosed with the extremely rare psychological condition, Cotard's Syndrome, Graham's belief was that "...my brain didn't exist any more," he told New Scientist.
"I didn't need to eat, or speak, or do anything. I ended up spending time in the graveyard because that was the closest I could get to death."
Cotard's Syndrome is characterized by the delusional belief that the sufferer is dead, does not exist, is putrefying, or has lost their blood or internal organs. In rare cases it can cause delusions of immortality.
Like many cases, Graham's delusion stemmed from severe depression. The previous year he had attempted suicide by getting into the bath with an electrical appliance. Now, he said, "I just felt like my brain didn't exist any more. I'd fried it in the bath."
Even as Graham sat talking, breathing, going about his daily business, he still could not accept the possibility that his brain existed or was alive.
The bizarre condition was identified in 1880, when the French neurologist Jules Cotard described le delire de negation ("negation delirium") as ranging from mild (despair and self-loathing) to severe (intense delusions and chronic depression).
In one of his lectures, Cotard described a patient known as Mademoiselle X, who denied the existence of several parts of her body, as well as the need to eat. Later she claimed she was eternally damned and could not die a natural death. In the end she passed away from starvation.
A modern-day case of Cotard Delusion occurred in a man who had a motorcycle accident: in January 1990, after his discharge from hospital in Edinburgh, his mother took him to South Africa. He was convinced that he had been taken to hell (which was confirmed by the heat), and that he had died of septicemia (which had been a risk early in his recovery), or perhaps from AIDS (he had read a story about someone with AIDS who died from septicemia), or from an overdose of a yellow fever injection. He thought he had borrowed his mother's spirit to show him round hell, and that she was asleep in Scotland.
Meanwhile, a 14-year-old boy suffered from recurring episodes of Cotard's which lasted up to three months at a time. In each episode, he would say that everyone is dead, including trees. He would also describe himself as being a dead body. He warned that the world would be destroyed within a few hours.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of Cotard's Syndrome is the physiology. New research has revealed that, in Graham's brain at least, activity in the areas responsible for the seat of consciousness is mysteriously missing...
In Graham, for the first time ever, researchers had the opportunity to examine the physiology of Cotard's Syndrome with a positron emission tomography (PET) scan. The brain scan yielded some fascinating results about how consciousness is constructed.
Metabolic activity across large areas of Graham's frontal and parietal regions was so startlingly low that they likened it to someone in a vegetative state.
Interestingly, parts of these areas form the default mode network - thought to be responsible for creating consciousness, theory of mind, and the ability to remember past events and subsequently forge a sense of self.
"I've been analysing PET scans for 15 years and I've never seen anyone who was on his feet with such an abnormal result," Steven Laureys at the University of Liege told New Scientist. "Graham's brain function resembles that of someone during anaesthesia or sleep."
Although the results didn't mean much to Graham at the time, the PET scans were the first step in his recovery. Based on observing the incredibly low levels of activity in his brain, a newly specialized regime of medication and therapy could begin.
It was only after months under the new regime that Graham remotely rediscovered what it means to live a normal life. "I couldn't say I'm back to normal, but I go out and do things around the house."
"I don't feel that brain-dead any more. Things just feel a bit bizarre sometimes," Graham said. "I'm not afraid of death. But that's not to do with what happened - we're all going to die sometime. I'm just lucky to be alive now."
18 July 2018: A complete game changer has emerged in the realm of lucid dreaming technology. A device that integrates reality checks instead of replacing them and uses Pavolivan Conditioning to establish learned
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?
To lucid dream, I recommend being able to remember at least one vivid dream per night. That will boost your self awareness in dreams (making lucidity more likely) and also means you can actually remember your lucid dreams. Which is nice. Here are four detailed tips on how to remember your dreams more frequently. And if you don't think you dream at all - trust me, you almost certainly do. It takes an extraordinarily rare sleep disorder to deprive someone of dream sleep.
Years ago, before I had my first lucid dream, I had a very specific idea about what a lucid dream would feel like. I thought it would be intense and magical and a little bit spooky. This turned out to be a pretty accurate representation. Becoming aware in the dreamstate is like entering another world. One where physical laws can be manipulated (there is no spoon, Neo) and your fantasies can come true in an instant. There's definitely something magical about that - and it's as if the lucid dream world is a living, breathing organism that can react to your very thoughts.
A lot has happened in the last 5 months. But how did we go from business as usual to changing the face of the entire lucid dreaming supplements industry? It’s a story that I think will interest you – and you might even learn a thing or two in the process. When I was first taken on-board as Chief Lucidity Officer in 2016, one of the first things I was tasked with was taking a good look at our operations and giving things a bit of an overhaul.
It is estimated that these wise and wily Indians have been using mugwort in their healing and ritual practices for 13,000 years, where it is known as the ‘dream sage’. They use the herb to promote good dreams, which they consider an essential aspect of normal human functioning! But that’s not all...