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Description: Aside from the neurological research work going into trying to figure out the brain based changes that are associated with the onset of dementia (Alzheimer’s etc.) we often wonder what the experience of such disorders would be like. There has been a recent explosion of artistic work (film, stage books etc.) examining the personal and close experiences with dementia from the points of view of those with the condition or of those close to such individuals. Here are a few things you can check out.

Source: Globe and Mail, March 2, 2015

Date: Released March 2, 2015

Dementia Globe and Mail

Photo credit – Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Links:     http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/fictional-dementia-evokes-the-harsh-reality/article23230317/

This Globe and Mail article provides an overview of the many recent artistic works that have tried to address the experience of dementia by those with the condition and/or those close to them. Recently available works include books (Emma Healy’s, Elizabeth is Missing) and graphic novels (Paco Roca’s Wrinkles set in a home for the elderly and featuring a man with dementia whose roommate is drawn with fewer and fewer facial features as the main character slowly forgets who his roommate is). Shakespeare’s King Lear is literally popping up everywhere in the currently offered plays of Theater Calgary and The Stratford Festival, and the British National Theater (check local theaters as the British National Theater is broadcasting some of their plays to Cineplex theaters and the Stratford Festival is releasing a filmed version of their mounting of King Lear from this past season which will be shown in Cineplex theaters THIS month. Other plays include Waiting Room by Diane Flacks and The Other Place by Sharr White. The CBS’s Jay Ingram has written a natural history of Alzheimer’s called the End of Memory. Films like Still Alice (based on a novel by Lisa Genova) got “Oscar Buzz” this year.

All of this reflects a need to understand and try to come to terms with the subjective experience of those struggling with disorders like Alzheimer’s involving dementia. It could be suggested that this is necessary if we are to understand how to ethically and empathically view and respond to those who struggle with such conditions.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What might the value be to abnormal and clinical psychology of reflecting upon some of these artistic depictions of those struggling with dementia?
  2. How might such artistic depiction of people struggling with dementia add to our understanding of that range of disorders?
  3. What might some of the impacts be of these artistic works on issues such as stigma associated with mental illness?

References (Read Further):

Healy, Emma (2014) Elizabeth is Missing, New York, Harper. http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18635113-elizabeth-is-missing

Genova, Lisa (2007) Still Alice, IUniverse, http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2153405.Still_Alice?from_search=true and film data at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3316960/

Ingram, Jay (2015) The End of Memory, Harper Collins, http://www.jayingram.ca/books/the-end-of-memory.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/16/theater/king-john-and-king-lear-at-the-stratford-festival.html

http://www.cineplex.com/Movie/king-lear-stratford-festival-hd

http://www.cineplex.com/Movie/king-lear-national-theatre-live

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