Thinking Out Loud

May 5, 2015

Inside the Mind (and Heart) of a Ghost Boy

Subtitle: The Miraculous Escape of a Misdiagnosed Boy Trapped Inside His Own Body

Martin PistoriusAlthough I’m arriving late for the book review party, I was especially drawn to Ghost Boy, the story of Martin Pistorius, particularly after a February 28 interview on The Drew Marshall Show. From the story from the website GhostBoyBook.com:

In January 1988 Martin Pistorius, aged twelve, fell inexplicably sick. First he lost his voice and stopped eating. Then he slept constantly and shunned human contact. Doctors were mystified. Within eighteen months he was mute and wheelchair-bound. Martin’s parents were told an unknown degenerative disease left him with the mind of a baby and less than two years to live.

Martin was moved to care centers for severely disabled children. The stress and heartache shook his parents’ marriage and their family to the core. Their boy was gone. Or so they thought.

The book is written from the point of view of Martin gaining awareness three years later, then spending more than a decade with full consciousness and a sophisticated mind, but trapped inside a body that simply won’t respond.

This has implications for, and will resonate with, people in many different situations which just to name a few, include:

  • People with communication deficiencies
  • People who have been or are continually medically misdiagnosed
  • People dealing with or having family members with degenerative diseases; everything from Multiple Sclerosis to Autism
  • People who work in any sector of the health care system
  • People who, though they are higher functioning, find themselves trapped in institutional situations with lesser functioning individuals
  • People who are a burden to their family and they or family members wish they would simply die
  • People who needed, or still need, just one person to believe in them
  • People who are aware of deficiencies in social awareness or information that is common to most others, and must work hard to compensate
  • People who can accomplish amazing things over incredible odds
Original cover (left) and current edition (right) of Ghost Boy

Original cover (left) and current edition (right) of Ghost Boy

Somewhere around 2012, Simon and Schuster published the original version of the book, later Nelson Books, a division of Thomas Nelson gave the book a second life, which created a larger marketing push on traditional and social media outlets.

There is definitely a faith element to the story, but it is very much in the background. I think this may figure into Thomas Nelson’s decision to issue the book under a different imprint. For Martin, the return to awareness included a sense that God was simply always there:

“He was real to me, a presence inside and around me that calmed me and reassured me . . . I spoke to God as I tried to make sense of what happened to me and asked Him to protect me from harm .  . . I talked to him endlessly because I knew we shared something important. I didn’t have proof that He existed but I believed in Him anyway because I knew He was real. God did the same for me. Unlike people, He didn’t need proof that I existed — He knew I did” [p.161].

The book is also very blunt. There are a couple of occurrences of graphic imagery, and the abuse he suffered at the hands of his caregivers is sometimes difficult to read, but it did not defeat him. His attitude; his resilience is remarkable.

Ghost Boy is written in 65 short chapters and doesn’t always follow a linear, chronological form. The story also only goes to 2009, though that year was certainly represents, so far, an almost unbelievable climax in Martin’s story.

It’s truly like no other book I’ve ever read.


Thanks to the Canadian division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing for supplying me with requested titles like this one.

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