Okay, it might not be actual proof but this little nugget of knowledge is still worthy of being stored in your ‘strange but true’ files.
With zombies being the ‘In’ thing right now, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone dug up the presence of zombies in an actual medical journal (The Lancet), but it is interesting that this journal wrote a study on zombies back in 1997, when genres like paranormal romance and urban fantasy hadn’t even been dreamed of yet. I think it just goes to show that interest in the paranormal has always been around.
All three cases that were mentioned in the study come from Haiti, where the act of using “vodu” to turn someone into a zombie is actually considered a crime under the Haitian Penal Code. Remember that for the next time you book a vacation in that area.
Check out the snippets from three case studies below, and then I want to ask you a question. For the sake of anonymity, the subjects of the study are referred to by initials only.
FI was around 30 years old when she died after a short febrile illness and was buried by her family the same day in the family tomb next to her house. 3 years later she was recognised by a friend wandering near the village; her mother confirmed her identity by a facial mark, as did her 7-year-old daughter, her siblings, other villagers, her husband, and the local priest. She appeared mute and unable to feed herself. Her parents accused her husband of zombifying her (he was jealous of her after she had had an affair). After a local court authorised the opening of her tomb, which was full of stones, her parents were undecided whether to take her home and she was admitted to the psychiatric hospital in Port-au Prince […]
She was later diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia.
WD, 26 years old, was the eldest son of an alleged former tonton macoute (secret policeman) under the Duvaliers’ regime. The father was our principal informant together with WD’s mother and other villagers. When he was 18, he suddenly became ill with a fever, “his eyes turned yellow,” he “smelled bad like death,” and “his body swelled up”. Suspecting sorcery, his father asked his older brother to obtain advice from a boko [or sorcerer], but WD died after 3 days and was buried in a tomb on family land next to the house of a female cousin. The tomb was not, as was customary, watched that night. 19 months later, WD reappeared at a nearby cock fight, recognised his father, and accused his uncle of zombifying him […]
WD was later diagnosed with epilepsy and “organic brain syndrome.”
MM, aged 31, was the younger sister of our principal informant who described her as formerly a friendly but quiet and shy girl, not very bright. At the age of 18, MM had joined some friends in prayers for a neighbour who had been zombified; she herself then became ill with diarrhoea and fever, her body swelled up and she died in a few days. The family suspected revenge sorcery. After 13 years, MM had reappeared in the town market 2 months before we met her, with an account of having been kept as a zombi in a village 100 miles to the north, and having borne a child to another zombi (or perhaps to the boko). On the death of the boko, his son had released her and she travelled home on foot.
It was posited that MM was living with fetal alcohol syndrome.
Also, DNA tests indicate that the last two ‘zombies’ might have been misidentified.
Is it possible that the fine art of zombiesm is nothing more than a long history of misdiagnosed diseases or do these three cases just coincidentally have so many similarities to the art of bringing the dead back to life?
Personally, I think it’s just a coincidence and I can safely say that if I had been one of those people that encountered a ‘dead’ relative that had come back from the grave, I’d be sitting in a prison cell right now.
And now, my question to you. How would you react? A friend or relative dies, you bury them, and then you see them walking around later. Are you excited? Curious? Running for the nearest machete or high-caliber weapon?
Truth really is stranger than fiction.