Zombification is the word used to describe the process of creating a zombie. This word, constructed from a Haitian root and a Latin suffix, has been literally applied to situations in which the re-animation of a dead process or animal is observed and metaphorically applied to a variety of persons accused of mindlessness or those exhibiting more malevolent herd behavior than that of lemmings. More important perhaps than the process of making a zombie, which is either the subject of ethnography or fictional writing, is the application of this word to contemporary social issues.
According to Wade Davis’ book Passage of Darkness: the Ethnobiology of the Haitian Zombie, the process of creating a zombie involves cultural indoctrination and drugs. His work Passage of Darkness, which is more academically rigorous than his earlier The Serpent and the Rainbow, spends most of its time defining the ethnographic place of zombies. In an intentionally broad statement in his introduction, he suggests that zombification can be generalized to describe any "form of social sanction imposed by recognized corporate bodies". In this sense, zombification could describe the process by which prison labor is used to mint license plates or perform telemarketing.
Andrei Codrescu's book Zombification is a collection of his editorials from NPR's All Things Considered from 1989-93. In two separate essays he uses the word to illustrate different ideas. In the foreword to the collection, he suggests that television media leads to desensitization from overexposure to images of suffering and persecution, and a feeling of powerlessness. However in the title essay, he applies the word as a synonym for "programming" in a brief discussion of the masses that unquestioningly receive their thoughts from call-in radio and political entertainment shows.
In the pulp fictions of the 1920s, which established zombies as the mindless undead thirsting for brains, zombification was a mysterious process based on ill-understood superstition or science. As popular entertainment progressed into moving pictures, the cause of zombification was variously ascribed to any leading scientific or pseudo-scientific issue:
population crisis in the afterlife,
native American spirits,
the senior prom,
unexplained infectious disease,
rogue amateur neurologists, and
It is of course questionable whether or not any particular explanation contributes to the entertainment of a movie or story or game. A poorly expostulated process can often provide a plot loophole and thereby a solution to the whole problem. Not unlike a missile shield.