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The body tells a story

BMJ 2003; 326 doi: (Published 22 March 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:666
  1. Paquita de Zulueta, general practitioner (
  1. west London

    There were two that morning. The first, a young Algerian man, a refugee from Kuwait. It was the eyes I first noticed: the eyes of the traumatised—dead, empty, yet somehow haunted, as if living a perpetual horror. Headache. Pitiless, there all day. His brow furrowed. He described it like a weight on his forehead, crushing him.

    I asked a question, and then came the story. The beatings to the head, savage, relentless. He was only 18 then. His brothers killed. His body thrown in a heap, like rubbish, among the corpses. For a flash moment, I was there—I could hear the screams, smell the sickening stench, feel the terror. And then back in the haven of my chair.

    “And have you told anyone your story?” I asked. “No.” “So … why now?” …

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