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Dementia and Subjectivity / Demenz und Subjektivität

Aesthetic, Literary and Philosophical Perspectives / Ästhetische, literarische und philosophische Perspektiven

Edited By Daniela Ringkamp, Sara Strauß and Leonie Süwolto

This volume offers new perspectives on questions which are highly relevant in the context of dementia and the arts and the humanities. The issues concern the personal identity of dementia patients, their familial relationships, advance directives and the patients’ autonomy, the cultural representation of the subjective experience of dementia, and the patients’ stigmatization due to the disease. By considering topics from philosophy and medical humanities, from cultural studies as well as from German, English, American and Comparative literature, the volume aims to think beyond the boundaries of specific disciplines in order to bring philosophy, literary and cultural studies into a fruitful conversation about dementia and the challenges it entails for the individual and for society.

Dieser Band ermöglicht alternative Zugänge zu aktuellen gesellschaftlichen Debatten über Demenz. Ausgehend von zentralen Fragen der Philosophie sowie der Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaften diskutieren die Beiträge Probleme der personalen Identität von Demenzerkrankten, ihren familiären Beziehungen, zu Patientenverfügungen und zur Autonomie von Demenzbetroffenen sowie die kulturelle Repräsentation der subjektiven Erfahrungen von Demenz und die Stigmatisierung von Patienten infolge ihrer Erkrankung. Durch seinen interdisziplinären Ansatz bringt der Band Beiträge aus der Philosophie, den Medical Humanities, der Germanistik, Anglistik und Amerikanistik sowie der Komparatistik in einen Dialog über die Herausforderungen, die Demenzerkrankungen an unsere Gesellschaft und das Individuum stellen.

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Dementia, Autonomy and Practical Selfhood (Daniela Ringkamp)


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Daniela Ringkamp (Magdeburg)

Dementia, Autonomy and Practical Selfhood

Abstract: This paper argues for a weak understanding of diachronic unity as a basic element of personal identity. With reference to Jeff McMahan’s notion of time-relative interests, it shows that dementia patients up to the second stage of the disease are able to perform the requirements that constitute this concept and that the discussions about prolonged and current autonomy in dementia can be enriched by it.

In addition to physical and psychological symptoms and in contrast to other mental diseases as for example schizophrenia, a permanent coma or a temporary disturbance of cognitive abilities, dementia is characterized by a gradual, but irreversible loss of mental capacities. These characteristics constitute major challenges concerning nursing issues and everyday care of dementia sufferers: Especially in the second and third stages of the disease a patient’s interests and requirements may hardly be identified, and this problem can only partly be resolved if the patient has passed an Advance Directive before showing serious symptoms. Due to these difficulties, it is not surprising at all that much effort has been made to analyze the decision-making abilities of dementia sufferers. There is a series of studies which discusses the possibilities and limits of self-determination performed by dementia patients from an empirical viewpoint.1 These investigations are correlated with examinations concer­ning the moral status of the patients, the justification of patient autonomy in dementia and possible interventions into the decision-making...

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