From Caroline to Robert F. Murphy

The Ill as a Representation of Death
By Olivier Rachid Grim

Why are mentally handicapped people not allowed, within their capacities, to have affective lives, with all that this implies in terms of sexuality? When comparing the destinies of Caroline—a young Downs syndrome woman who has been denied any affective life—and Robert F. Murphy—an anthropologist who became progressively tetraplegic and wrote about his condition as it developed—we find that their meeting point indicates an underlying anthropological status attributed to handicapped people, a status where the representation of death is central.


  • sexuality
  • mental deficiency
  • liminality
  • death representation
  • human condition
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