“Zombie apocalypse” seems to be part of every headline nowadays, fueled by a series of horrific crimes around North America.
Miami’s Rudy Eugene was killed by the police after chewing off 75 percent of a homeless man’s face. Maryland’s Alexander Kinyua is now receiving psychiatric treatment after admitting to killing and eating the brain and heart of his roommate. A man in New Jersey is cornered by the police and decides to stab himself, rip his stomach open and throw his own intestines at them. An international manhunt is on for a Canadian young man who allegedly dismembered one of his friends and mailed the body parts to Canada’s Liberal Party offices.
New York Forensic Psychiatrist Steven Hodge says that looking for the logic in these crimes might not be a simple process.
“I understand people are looking for an explanation, but there are some things that don’t have any explanations,” he said. “When someone is psychotic, they come to believe all kinds of very, very bizarre things. There is nothing logical or coherent or expectable about the kinds of delusions that would lead someone to cannibalize.”
According to Hodge, these so-called zombie apocalypse events are definitively not quite so.
Professor of Public Communication at the American University, Scott Talan, agrees. According to Talan, these crimes are not an isolated occurrence and little have to do with zombies. Horrific crimes happen all the time, he said to CNN. However, when media focuses on a type of story, the immediate response of the public is to attach a name to it, in this case “zombie apocalypse.”
But – unless we hear of a new cannibal attack - Talan says by next week it’ll be zombie apocalypse no more.
This is not the first time zombies make headlines though. Little more than a year ago, zombies were suddenly in the news after the Centers for Disease Prevention issued a zombie apocalypse preparedness kit – a strategy they came up with to educate the public on the proper steps to follow after a natural disaster.
The current circumstances, however, are far from the playful news back then. Both Hodge and Talan agree that, although gruesome, these are part of the nation’s every day criminal acts that will eventually be explained psychologically and socially once more information is gathered.
For now, there are indeed some common elements among some of these attacks.
Although, Miami’s attack by Rudy Eugene has been initially attributed to the use of bath salts drug, it has also been established that there is a previous record of violence – something shared with the Maryland’s case.
Kinyua reportedly viciously beat another man with a baseball bat two weeks ago. Eugene had been arrested a few times for domestic violence, including beating up his mother and threatening to kill her.
As further investigation into the cases evolves, the evidence may point to a more concrete link between cannibalism, mental illness, and drug use.