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This Week In The Bmj

Locked-in syndrome

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: (Published 17 February 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:0-f

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Locked-In Syndrome in Literature

Smith and Delargy mention J-D Bauby's autiobiographical The Diving-
Bell and the Butterfly. Alexandre Dumas' fictional work The Count of Monte
Cristo also features eloquent and accurate, though admittedly somewhat
romanticised, descriptions of locked-in syndrome, and the close bond
enabling the affected man to communicate with his granddaughter.

"Sight and hearing were the only senses remaining, and they, like two
solitary sparks, remained to animate the miserable body which seemed fit
for nothing but the grave; it was only, however, by means of one of these
senses that he could reveal the thoughts and feelings that still occupied
his mind, and the look by which he gave expression to his inner life was
like the distant gleam of a candle which a traveller sees by night across
some desert place, and knows that a living being dwells beyond the silence
and obscurity." - abridged version available as a free e-text on Project
Gutenberg (

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 February 2005
Peter Hart
Medical student
Glasgow University, G12 8QQ