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The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly
  1. Gillian Ingram
  1. Correspondence to Gillian Ingram, Department of Neurosciences, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff CF14 4XW; drgillianingram{at}

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by Jean-Dominique Bauby. 2004. Publisher: Harper Perennial.

This month's book club discussion focused on our reliance upon communication as the key to our existence and importantly, our interaction with patients; we learnt that the way we cope after losing communication is revealing of our human nature. The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby (figure 1) is an autobiographical description of Bauby's experience after a brain stem stroke caused his locked-in syndrome. Dictated letter by letter to his editor through the blinking of an eye, Bauby's meticulous analysis of each word and superbly constructed sentences provide a rare insight into this condition. His profession as an editor and writer uniquely positioned him to document this experience so succinctly. Our discussion raised the suggestion that the act of writing might itself have been therapeutic, allowing an acceptance and understanding …

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