mindGrazing

chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Book Review: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

Posted by Jason on December 7, 2008

divingbellbutterflyAn incredible account of a victim of “Locked-In Syndrom” told only by blinking his eyes. Some days he feels encapsulated in an old style diving bell helmet, while other days his mind is as free as a butterfly. His brain is completely functional, but the only thing he can physically do is blink his eyes. I read this before the movie came out, and I’m satisfied with how the movie portrayed the author’s situation.

The real value in this book is that it makes us rethink what our notions of someone who looks “retarded” or “disabled.” Bauby was in a wheelchair and had a horribly contorted face which would make many people grimace and think he was basically a vegetable. However, his brain was fully functional and worked well enough to compose a book, even if his body was incapable of physically writing it. 

A lot of times, we tend to measure a man by his potential for work. People who have diminished physical capacities through disease, obesity, or injury are somehow worth less in our society than if they were without hinderances. While most of the intellectual world has the highest regard for Steven Hawking, he is commonly a punchline in sitcoms and other forums that get their acclaim from magnifying people’s problems. While humor is definitely a way of coping with difficult situations, one must realize that there is much to be learned from people with impairments, regardless of what abilities they may or may not have. In spending time with disabled/handicapped people, one learns about humanity, compassion, small triumphs that make life worth living.

Bauby’s book helps us to remember to look for and recognize the humanity in every person, especially those who might feel like monsters because of some ailment or impairment. I’d put it in the must-read category for anyone that works with people or anyone in the healthcare field…

**Recommended to me by Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars while we were having pizza at his new house on the cliffs in Del Mar (I had to brag…).

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2 Responses to “Book Review: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby”

  1. Brooke said

    Oh, thanks for mentioning this to me… Gonna have to read it for sure! I care for many patients who are eithe non-verbal or only minimally verbal. It didn’t take me long to realize just becaues they can’t talk doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot to communicate, so I think I will enjoy this book.

  2. Ryan A said

    Oh wow must be nice to have pizza with the guitar man himself. Send me an email so we could chat. I have a favor I need to ask of you. Keep up the good work with the blog!

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