The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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  • Topic: Stroke, Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
  • Pages : 4 (1724 words )
  • Download(s) : 480
  • Published : November 2, 2009
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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is written from the point of view of Jean-Dominique Bauby, a French journalist and former editor-in-chief of ELLE magazine, in Paris. Bauby suffered a severe stroke on December 8, 2005, leaving him with a rare condition known as locked-in syndrome, in which the brain continues to function normally, but the body is completely paralyzed. Jean-Do retained some movement in his head and left eye, and wrote his memoir through a tedious method of blinking. An interlocutor would read aloud a special alphabet, ordered by their frequency of use in French language, and Bauby would blink whenever the person reached the correct letter (Wikipedia). Through this method, the reader is offered a glimpse into the mind of a man who, otherwise, was unable to communicate to the outside world. The story would not be the same if it were told from another perspective. If told from the point of view of one of his therapists at the hospital, his condition would be told from a primarily medical standpoint. If a family member or friend told the story, our view of Bauby’s condition would be limited to hospital visits and personal memories. It is only by hearing the story directly from Bauby, that we get a clear understanding of the life that he lived and the condition of which he suffered, on a day-to-day basis. Bauby died on March 9, 1997 due to pneumonia, 10 days after the publication of his book (Wikipedia). The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, a memoir told through Jean-Dominique Bauby’s unique perspective, vivid imagination, beautiful prose, and discussion of universal themes, stands as a testament to the vitality of the human mind.

At the beginning of the book, Jean-Do is in his hospital room, at the Naval Hospital in northern France. He explains that a year ago he suffered a massive stroke in his brain stem that has left him completely incapacitated. Jean's stroke resulted in a phenomenon known as locked-in syndrome. His mental capacities...
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