Deadness as a Feeling Considered Through the Lens of The Walking Dead

Psychodyn Psychiatry. Spring 2021;49(1):86-109. doi: 10.1521/pdps.2021.49.1.86.

Abstract

Zombie films and shows have accelerated in popularity through the decades, and the genre is produced the world over. The Walking Dead, one such show, has been rated among the most popular cable network television programs since its inception. When watching a herd of zombie walkers, the viewer faces some important questions. In some ways, many can identify with the experience of the zombie, as it reflects the psychological state of inner deadness. The psychodynamic literature has a rich history describing this experience. A review of these ideas and the metaphor of the zombie help guide us in the treatment of our patients who do not experience themselves as truly living. The Walking Dead also provides a glimpse into the response of detachment to a viral pandemic, and how we might discover our best self during such times while helping our patients to do the same.

Keywords: alexithymia; inner deadness; loneliness; psychiatric diagnosis; social isolation; zombification.