Clinical Manifestations as a Determinant of Dementia

  • Richard M. Torack
Part of the Monographien aus dem Gesamtgebiete der Psychiatrie book series (PSYCHIATRIE, volume 20)


The terminal phase of the slow inexorable process that disintegrates the human mind results in the most profound form of depravity known to mankind. Physical disability with a variable painful overlay certainly creates widespread sentiment of sympathy. Mental retardation evokes universal grief for a life that could have been. However, the transformation of a viable functioning intellectual animal into a vegetative being without awareness, and without responsiveness represents the ultimate degradation not only for the human but for any other animal species. There is nothing very subtle about its impact; yet it has inspired some of the most poignant poetry and prose every recorded. For example, Shakespeare speaks for King Lear abouthis mental confusion:

Does any here know me? This is not Lear: Does Lear walk thus? speak thus? Where are his eyes? Either his notion weakens, or his discernings Are lethargied. Ha! waking? Tis not so. Who is it than can tell me who I am?

and finally about the welcome of death:

Vex not his ghost: 0! let him pass; he hates him That would upon the rack of this tough world Stretch him out longer. (Shakespeare.) Early clinicians also speak passionately of dementia.


Limbic System Senile Dementia Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Normal Pressure Hydrocephalus Affective Psychosis 
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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard M. Torack
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Medicine, Department of PathologyWashington UniversitySt. LouisUSA

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