The philosophy of selfhood became real when my mother got dementia
a hand touching its reflection in a window

At first, my mother, the poet Anne Atik, had seemed just ordinarily confused. Then, very gradually, the confusion took on a pathological aspect. She awoke in the middle of the night thinking it was morning. On what turned out to be her last Eurostar journey, she thought she had arrived in London when we had just left it. Though her sentences remained grammatically coherent, they stopped making sense. A poet and writer, she became unable to write, even to read. But she remained a poet, distilling her emotions and humour into one-liners that I took to writing down. It was as if the confusion bred by the dementia had set her free, distilling her poetic fire.

I had been observing doctors observing patients, but once my mother started entering the text, the patient ‘out there’ became a ‘you’

It was a bewildering experience – dementia always is. But my questions about the self, and the loss of self, became all the more poignant now that I could see what in my mother remained, and what was disappearing. I also better understood the patients whose stories I was writing about – while their stories helped me better understand her.

Read more in Psyche.

Written by External Article
Everyone is talking about caregiving, but it can still be difficult to find meaningful information and real stories that go deep. We read (and listen to and watch and look at) the best content about caregiving and bring you a curated selection. Have a great story about caregiving? Use our contact form to submit it to us so we can share it with the community!

Related Articles

And So on and So Forth

And So on and So Forth

The woman is my mother, who is 81 and losing her memory, the past dissolving each day like so many tablets dropped into water and turning to fizz....

Popular categories

Finances
Burnout
After Caregiving
Housing
Relationships
Finding Meaning
Planning
Dying
Finding Support
Work
Grief

Don't see what you're looking for? Search the library

Share your thoughts

0 Comments

Share your thoughts and experiences

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Join our communities

Whenever you want to talk, there’s always someone up in one of our Facebook communities.

These private Facebook groups are a space for support and encouragement — or getting it off your chest.

Join our newsletter

Thoughts on care work from Cori, our director, that hit your inbox each Monday morning (more-or-less).

There are no grand solutions, but there are countless little ways to make our lives better.

Share your insights

Caregivers have wisdom and experience to share. Researchers, product developers, and members of the media are eager to understand the nature of care work and make a difference.

We have a group specifically to connect you so we can bring about change.