Care in the Clinic: A Humanistic Approach to Healing in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly Open Access

Kacsoh, Dorottya Bernadett (Spring 2019)

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This thesis focuses on The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le Scaphandre et le Papillon) (1997) by Jean-Dominique Bauby, the former editor-in-chief of Elle who suffered a cerebrovascular accident that left his body paralyzed but his mind intact. Through the intervention of caregivers and forms of self-care, Bauby learns to come to terms with his new body in a dynamic healing process that emphasizes sensory experiences. Caregiving does not merely take the form of care by hospital personnel: it is delivered through friends and family, as well as through Bauby’s own imagination. By facilitating the experience of sensation—whether that be physical, gustatory, or otherwise—caregivers help Bauby gain the autonomy necessary to find meaning in his new bodily state. This thesis largely addresses the phenomenological aspect of stroke survivorship with an emphasis on Locked-in Syndrome through a close reading of Bauby’s memoir. While the clinical considerations of the memoir are addressed, the thesis emphasizes the phenomenological interpretation. Separated into overarching themes of dehumanization, attention to the spirit through attention to the body, and the rejection of the Cartesian model through imagined bodily experiences, a close reading of the text reveals the importance of caregiving in healing the spirit. This thesis begins with a representative literature review of the sources that analyze the memoir and subsequently explores the importance of caregiving in the maintenance of a lived body in addition to a mechanical one. This review of caregiving is then applied directly to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and concludes with a discussion of the practical applications of humanistic inquiry in modern-day care in addition to their applicability to memoir. 

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:

Preface 1

I. An Overview of the Existing Analyses 2

II. The Influence of Caregiving on the Subjective Body 14

III. Means of Healing in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 24

IV. Caregiving Narratives in a Rehabilitation Context 48

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