A possible medical diagnosis of zombies, just in case they end up being real

(Video link) If you're a logical, overthinking zombie fan, then this is the TED-Ed video for you! Tim Verstynen and Bradley Voytek of the Zombie Research Society have narrated a short, animated video outlining possible medical explanations for why zombies are zombies. You might think this is silly, because zombies are fictional... until you see some wobbly humanoid lurking in your backyard, eating a squirrel. I just want you to have the information you might desperately need. (via Zombie Research Society)


  1. First the Health Department releases a Zombie Outbreak Survival Guide, and now this… I feel like someone is trying to tell us something… 

    1. It depends on what kind of zombie you’re shooting at. Slow zombies are often explained as completely dead, but able to move by electrical stimulation from a reanimated brain. No heartbeat, just running on whatever little amont of energy is left in the muscles and blood. The heart is unnecessary.

      Fast zombies are often characterized as fully resuscitated, with a beating heart, breathing and such, while mostly braindead. If these guy’s heart stops, they sometimes keep going as a crawler/drager, sometimes they just die, depending on which movie/book/video game.

      Either way, neck breaking/decapitation/total head explosion is usually considered the best way to kill them… I prefer flamethrowers. Less splatter, more sanitary, usable ammo everywhere.

  2. I can’t ‘catch’ Parkinson’s. The zombie mythos almost always involves some kind of pathogen that’s transferred through blood or saliva. And that’s why epidemiology always gets mentioned in the same breath. I always figured encephalitis would be the culprit – in terms of aggression, shambling and biting. Imagine, anecdotally, a rabid dog. Or some variation of Nipah (the ‘Contagion’ virus).

    Don’t get me wrong, that vid was mad neato. But diagnosing aphasia, ataxia, etc. sounds like it’s geared toward the rehabilitation of zombified persons. And that, as far as I’m concerned, is outside the zombie mythos. If it’s not scary enough to want to shoot in the head, then it’s not a zombie.

    And, you know, Parkinson’s patients aren’t horror movie monsters…..

    1.  Always involves a pathogen? Only in the lame modern mainstream stuff. In the classic zombie movies they are made by magic to serve as an undying minion for a zombie master – typically a practitioner of voodoo. Before Romero, all movie zombies were of this variety. (Incidentally, Romero may have been at least partially inspired by the Smurfs… the ‘black smurfs’ story, which predates his movie by about 5 years, is all but a textbook zombie apocalypse)

      1. I think it’s pretty clear they weren’t talking about the ‘zonbi’ of African or diaspora cultures or the voodoo religion. But you’re right to point out that ‘Zombie’ can mean different things to different people. 

        IF they were talking about zombies in the Romero tradition, then I think rehabilitation is not GENERALLY part of that narrative. That’s not to say it wouldn’t make for an awesome twist. What if the Walking Dead survivors find a cure for the virus? Are they supposed to administer it to every shambling corpse on Earth? And risk their own lives in the process? Even if every survivor spends every day curing zombies, how many could they even save in a lifetime? And how many of those corpses are going to decay beyond repair before they can get to them? This triage alone would make for great zombie fiction.  
        Anyway, that wasn’t my point. I was more trying to upbraid the vid’s makers for implying that aphasia, ataxia or Parkinson’s are ‘scary’.  

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