Learning From Losing: Ethical, Psychoanalytic, and Spiritual Perspectives on Managing the Incremental Losses of the Distributed Self in Dementia
Lomax, James W
Journal of psychiatric practice 2011 Jan; 17(1): 41-8
The author describes his experiences making decisions about the care of his mother, who was suffering from dementia, and the profound effect this process had on him as a psychotherapist. As background, he first presents an overview of writings from Jerry M. Lewis, George Pollock, and George Vaillant on issues related to attachment, death, loss, and mourning. The author equates his experiences caring for his mother with a type of involuntary "continuing education" and describes the lessons he learned as he was faced with decisions about his mother's level of care and as he mourned the slow, piecemeal loss of her distributed self. A case vignette is presented to illustrate how the author applied the lessons he had learned in psychotherapy with a distressed patient caring for her aging mother. The article concludes with a summary of the clinical and ethical questions raised by this case and the author's experience with his mother and a discussion of principles that can help psychotherapists provide treatment for patients who are caring for family members with dementia. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice. 2011;17:41-48).
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