Views & Reviews Medical classics

The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.39239.635463.4E (Published 28 June 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1377
  1. David Warriner, FY1 general surgery, York
  1. David.Warriner{at}york.nhs.uk

    Translated from the French, The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly is a beautiful and poignant account of a 45 year old father of two falling victim to a catastrophic stroke. The resulting “locked-in syndrome” means he is unable to speak or move—his only means of interaction is through blinking his left eye.

    The book focuses on his room in a naval hospital on the north coast of France. He discusses scabrous orderlies, “arrogant, brusque, sarcastic” doctors, and a fear of losing the use of the “only window to his cell,” his …

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