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The diving-bell and the butterfly

Jean-Dominique Bauby

The diving-bell and the butterfly

Elizabeth Hall, Infection Prevention Advisor

Reason you chose this book

This memoir by a man who suffers a catastrophic stroke, really made me think about how I communicate and interact with patients. Also about how important it is to personalise care, and try to find time to do the little things that make all the difference to patients.


The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a memoir written by a journalist who suffers a catastrophic stroke, and as a result has 'locked in syndrome'. The book is written in his own words with the help of his partner using blinking to indicate the letter he wanted to write. It tells the story of the authors stroke and subsequent care in hospital and convalescence, and also of his life pre-stroke. I found the book immensely moving and it really made me think about how I care for and talk to patients, particularly those with limited communication themselves. There is a lot of humour in the book, it is also very poignant and makes you think about how we take so much in life for granted. This book will stay with you long after you have finished reading it.

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Page last updated - 03/08/2019