The Body Silent


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The Body Silent is a personal narrative written by Robert Murphy, a professor at Columbia University. This piece is a narrative of personal struggle through a spinal condition, published in 1987 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc. He uses this narrative to tell his journey through a deteriorating spinal condition leading to paraplegia. He was diagnosed with a tumor extending from his second cervical vertebra to the eighth thoracic vertebra in 1972. Through his narrative he tells his medical history and how the diagnosis of old medicine (late 1920s) knew very little about neurology, and left undetected problems which created a new issue in his 50's. As an anthropology professor at Columbia University, he applies his field to his medical journey. "This book was conceived in the realization that my long illness with a disease of the spinal cord has been a kind of extended anthropological field trip, for through it I have sojourned in a social world no less strange to me at first than those of the Amazon forests. And since it is the duty of all anthropologists to report on their travels . . . this is my accounting." Due to funded research of his medical experiences and conditions, he provides the readers with a description and explanation of what he deals with, plus a constant discussion of future possibility and his mindset throughout.

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