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The ‘demented other’ or simply ‘a person’? Extending the philosophical discourse of Naue and Kroll through the situated self

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This article presents a critique of an article previously featured in Nursing Philosophy (10: 26–33) by Ursula Naue and Thilo Kroll, who suggested that people living with dementia are assigned a negative status upon receipt of a diagnosis, holding the identity of the ‘demented other’. Specifically, in this critique, we suggest that unwitting use of the adjective ‘demented’ to define a person living with the condition is ill‐informed and runs a risk of defining people through negative (self‐)attributes, which has a deleterious impact upon that person's social and relational personae. Moreover, use of the locution ‘demented’ reinforces a divide between the ‘demented’ (them) and the ‘healthy others’ (us). Social constructionist theory, malignant positioning and viewing people with dementia as semiotic subjects are the philosophical pillars through which we construct the main arguments of the critique. The article concludes with the voice of one of the authors, a younger person with dementia, asking for language in dementia care to be carefully reconsidered and reframed and for the recognition of the diagnosed person's agency in the conduct of their day‐to‐day lives.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Professor, Department of Psychology, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C., USA 2: Sunrise Senior Living, Cheshire 3: Research Associate 4: Professor of Older People's Mental Health Nursing, School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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