A Horror Movie Plot

By | November 23, 2009

…only real:

‘I screamed, but there was nothing to hear’: Man trapped in 23-year ‘coma’ reveals horror of being unable to tell doctors he was conscious

A car crash victim has spoken of the horror he endured for 23 years after he was misdiagnosed as being in a coma when he was conscious the whole time.

Rom Houben, trapped in his paralysed body after a car crash, described his real-life nightmare as he screamed to doctors that he could hear them – but could make no sound.

Kudos to the conscientious doctor who ran the tests that determined this man’s actual mental state. I hope that others follow suit in similar cases. It is hard to imagine the plight of those who might be trapped in similar circumstances.

Houben says frustration is “too small a word” to describe what he experienced over those 23 years, and that he coped with this nightmare by willing his mind to imagine a better life.

If there is any good news to be found here, it must be the extraordinary resiliency of spirit that Houben displayed. If you gave me this story as a hypothetical, I would guess that the victim would go insane within a matter of months, certainly within a few years. But even in these extreme circumstances, the human mind surprises us with its ability to survive.

  • http://www.blog.speculist Stephen Gordon

    I’m reminded of Harlan Ellison’s short story:

    I Have no Mouth and I Must Scream

  • https://blog.speculist.com Phil Bowermaster


    I wonder if he was aware of how much time had passed? Did he know it was 20 years?

  • Charles Hamper

    Might we be looking at facilitated communication? That would be my take.