Roald Dahl and the complete locked-in syndrome: “Cold dead body, living brain”


      The classical locked-in syndrome in which partially preserved eye movements allow for communication is well-recognized by most neurologists. Yet, it is much less well-known that patients exist who are clearly conscious but have lost all means of communicating it to the outside world because they no longer have any motor output at all. Of note, Roald Dahl, the internationally acclaimed children book author, described this complete locked-in syndrome in one of his short stories, William and Mary (1959), almost half a century before the medical community became aware of this devastating condition. The present clinical commentary highlights an under-recognized and clinically highly relevant topic, exemplified by a lesser-known but stunning piece of literature from one of the most beloved contemporary novelist.


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