Chapter

Dementia and personal identity

A. Harry Lesser

in Dementia

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780198566151
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754418 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780198566151.003.0003

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Dementia and personal identity

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So, if we consider philosophically the question whether a person with even serious dementia retains their identity, the answer is that they do. They always were, like the rest of us, liable to such things as dementia: unfortunately, in them the liability was actualized, but this does not make them someone different. The effects of dementia do damage the awareness of one's identity and can be particularly serious and troubling. But they give us no philosophical ground for saying that the identity has been destroyed, or that the relationship with them has been destroyed or should be ended, or that the past has been in any way invalidated. In this way philosophy provides us with some consolation. The consolation is limited and cannot do a lot by itself. But it saves us from one or two errors that can destroy or damage hope and make a bad situation worse. With this modest role we should be content!

Chapter.  3831 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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