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A body swap is a storytelling device seen in a variety of fiction, most often in television shows and movies, in which two people (or beings) exchange minds and end up in each other's bodies. Alternatively, their minds may stay where they are as their bodies adjust. The two people usually keep their voices in cartoons, for purposes of knowing who is who.
There are three distinct types of body swapping. Switches can be caused by magic items such as amulets, heartfelt wishes, or just strange quirks of the universe. The switches typically reverse after the subjects have expanded their world views, gained a new appreciation for each other's troubles by literally "walking in another's shoes" and/or caused sufficient amounts of farce. Notable examples include the books Vice Versa (1882) and Freaky Friday (1972), as well as the film versions of both.
Switches accomplished by technology, exempting gadgets advanced sufficiently to appear as magic, are the fare of mad scientists. Body-swapping devices are characterized by highly experimental status, straps, helmets with complicated cables that run to a central system and a tendency to direly malfunction before their effects can be reversed. Those without such means may resort to brain transplants. Such experiments can have overtones of horror; evil mad scientists seldom use willing test subjects.
In 1973 a group of scientists from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland Ohio, led by Dr. Robert White, a neurosurgeon inspired by the work of Vladimir Demikhov, transplanted the head of one monkey onto another monkey's body. The animal was still able to smell, taste, hear, and see. The animal survived for eight days after the operation, even at times attempting to bite some of the staff. Dr. White successfully repeated the operation on a monkey in 2001.
In 2002, other head transplants were also conducted in Japan involving rats. Unlike the head transplants performed by Dr. White, however, these head transplants involved grafting one rat's head onto the body of another rat that kept its head. Thus the rat ended up with two heads.
Appearances in fiction and drama
Since the Vice Versa novel was published in 1882, body swaps have been a popular theme in various media:
- A Saintly Switch (1999 TV movie) – A NFL quarterback switches bodies with his wife, who is expecting.
- Boy Meets Girl (2009 TV mini-series) — Two strangers swap bodies when struck by lightning.
- The Change-Up (2011 film) – A lawyer and family man switches with his best friend who is an adult video actor.
- Freaky Friday (1976 film) — Mother and daughter. Disney has produced several remakes including the 1995 and 2003 films. This also inspired the Freaky Freakend sitcom block where several TV shows on Disney Channel featured body swapping episodes.
- Gender Blender (2006 novel by Blake Nelson) – Emma and Tom switch bodies.
- Help! I'm Trapped... (book series by Todd Strasser) – A group of children use their science teacher's machine to swap bodies.
- The Hot Chick (2002 film) – A popular high school cheerleader finds herself in a man's body.
- The Identity Matrix (1982 novel by Jack L. Chalker) – Victor Gonser swaps with various women as part of an alien body swapping scheme.
- Identity Theft (2009 film) — A lottery winner ends up swapping bodies with a beautiful model who is in deep debt and is wanted by the police.
- Inside Mari (manga by Shūzō Oshimi) – A shut-in guy discovers that he has swapped bodies with a teenage girl.
- It's a Boy Girl Thing (2006 film) – Male teen and neighbor girl.
- Ithihasa (2014 Malayalam-language Indian film) – Two centuries-old rings end up with Alvy, a petty thief, and Janaki, an IT professional, by a string of coincidences and soon Alvy becomes Janaki and vice versa.
- Laughing Gas (1936 novel by P. G. Wodehouse) – Reggie and Joey inhale laughing gas at a dentist's office and find they have swapped bodies.
- La machine (1994 film) – A psychiatrist and his psychopathic murderer patient swap minds.
- Lejana (The Distances) (short story by Julio Cortázar) – A woman hugs a beggar and finds herself trapped in her body.
- Prelude to a Kiss (1988 play) – A mysterious old man kisses a bride on her wedding day and switches bodies. It was adapted into a 1992 film that starred Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan.
- Secret Garden (South Korean drama)
- The Tale of the Body Thief (1992 novel by Anne Rice) – Lestat de Lioncourt makes a deal with Raglan James to switch bodies.
- The Thing on the Doorstep (1937 short story by H. P. Lovecraft)
- Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches (2012– manga by Miki Yoshikawa) – The female protagonist has the ability to switch bodies with others by kissing them, and the male protagonist can copy that ability.
- Jose, Michael JR. "Vice Versa by F. Anstey Detailed Book Review". Retrieved 24 November 2010.
- King, Robert (February 4, 2001). "The mother versus the author". St. Petersburg Times (Hernando). Retrieved 24 November 2010.
- Browne, Malcolm W. (1998-05-05). "ESSAY; From Science Fiction to Science: 'The Whole Body Transplant'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Justo, Patrick Di. "Full Body Transplant". Gettingit.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- Niesel, Jeff (2013-09-25). "Cleveland Scene". Clevescene.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Frankenstein fears after head transplant". BBC News. 2001-04-06. Retrieved 2010-04-26.
- Young, Emma (3 December 2002). "Infant rat heads grafted onto adults' thighs". New Scientist. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
- Raymond, Adam K. (2013-09-05). "How to Swap Bodies With Anyone You Want, According to the Movies". Vulture.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- Ebert, Roger (2011-08-03). "The Change-Up Movie Review & Film Summary (2011)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- Ebert, Roger (2002-12-13). "The Hot Chick Movie Review & Film Summary (2002)". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- The Identity Matrix – Chalker – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Identity Theft (2009) – By Duane L. Martin". Rogue Cinema. 2009-08-01. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Yoshikawa Interview | Mahou-X". Mahouxscans.wordpress.com. 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2013-10-02. – translation of Natalie article.
- "コミックナタリー – [Power Push] 「山田くんと7人の魔女」吉河美希インタビュー (1/4)" (in Japanese). Natalie.mu. 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Crunchyroll Adds Inside Mari, Silver Nina, Love Theory Manga – News". Anime News Network. 2014-01-06. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
- "Machine". Fright.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "La Machine (1994). Moria – The Science-Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review". Moria. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- "Julio Cortázar Essay – Cortázar, Julio". eNotes.com. Retrieved 2013-10-02.
- IMDB list of movies with the 'Body Swap' keyword
- The Numbers: Box Office figures for films in the Body Swap genre
- New York Times article on monkey head transplant
- BBC article on monkey head transplant
- New Scientist article on rat head transplant
- Body swap movies at Internet Movie Database
- 10 Cliches of the Body Swap Movie
- Metamorphose.org — the catalog of transformations, plus reviews and alerts