dementia, again.

21Apr10

In a previous post I wrote that

People with dementia or other illnesses we might (far too broadly) categorise as post-traumatic are people who not only survive their own death but do not even die to begin with.

Perhaps it is this that goes some way to explaining why it is that demented people are so often regarded as the ‘living dead’ and may also explain my own (quite out of character) adverse reaction to the idea of dementia care as palliative care. Is there a sense in which people who seem to die but do not die, and so do not even survive their own deaths, are taken as monstrous or somehow inhuman because they do us the offensive of refusing death. It is as if we want them to lay down and disappear because they upset our sensitive natures. Really, the terror some people feel when in contact with people with dementia comes down to an insistence that this aberrant being correct itself by finishing off the process of self-erasure.

What might this tell us of other states broadly subsumable under ‘post-traumatic’? For a while I had called this kind of subjectivity ‘spectral’, as if it was something unfinished or incomplete. Yet this can’t be maintained when we think of the brain as constantly rewiring itself, as plastic and of subjectivities that are acted upon rather than static. Is it then the case that post-traumatism threatens the happy thought of unity, of Oneness. A kind of secular profane existence undermining our desire to vouchsafe some element of ourselves as sacred?

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