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“Awakenings” in Advanced Dementia Patients Hint at Untapped Brain Reserves (scientificamerican.com)
73 points by LinuxBender 73 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

This makes me think of the lucidity I witnessed in the people I knew who later committed suicide.

In the hours, days, and sometimes weeks before suicide, their depression was gone, their insular thoughts vanish, and a deep peacefulness and a period of lucidity that exceeds any capability for such wisdom and thoughtfulness beforehand was visible.

I dislike having seen enough to spot this pattern.

This is, in fact, a big problem in psychiatries.

Getting depressed people out of their depression without them killing themselves.

Often people have grave psychological problems that make their lifes hell, but also prevent them from suicide.

When they get their motivation and energy back, they use it to make save they don't fall back.

Maybe that lucidity was the final push for them. To experience the peacefulness they might always enjoy were they healthy, and then having to go back to the misery of their affliction after.

I'm sorry for your loss.

Robert Sapolsky described it this way [1]:

> You get someone who is severely depressed, like to the point of hospitalization, and when they are absolutely crippled with psychomotor retardation, that's not when you worry about suicide.

> This is someone who's having enough trouble getting out of bed and getting dressed each day. They're not going to figure out how to shred the hospital mattress and make a noose out of it.

> Where you've got your problems is when somebody begins to get better from a severe depression. When they're starting to come out, that's where the psychomotor retardation relieves enough that suddenly they've got the energy to do something catastrophic. That's when people are on suicide watches (when you have clinicians who are oriented well).

[1]: https://youtu.be/NOAgplgTxfc?t=514

Or maybe it is that period of lucidity that enabled them to plan the act.

It also makes me think of late Collin Willsons' "mind parasites"... i wonder if he also had seen the pattern.

“it seems to be a spontaneous, meaningful event that goes well beyond the occasional “good days” most dementia patients experience. The period of clarity is brief, lasting minutes, hours or possibly a day. It seems to come in the hours, days or weeks before death”

Based on my understanding of “why we sleep” and seeing complicated things fail, I wonder if their brains reach a maximally deteriorated state that somehow cancels out the damage temporarily. It might be helpful to find out whether people in these episodes seem truly “in tact” and able to recall their memories across their whole lives. Or, if it tends to be some minute portion of their memories.

Don’t know, but I genuinely wish this disease to perish. How it took my family members was just evil.

My first thought was "I wonder if it's caused by a release of DMT?" [1] [2]. Interesting research ahead for sure.

[1] https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.0142...

[2] https://beckleyfoundation.org/2017/07/05/do-our-brains-produ...

Exactly !!! Someone should notify this team or others in the field. I think DMT controls neurons sensitivity (trigger happiness). In high amounts one gets hallucinations. But for vegetative patients low amount of DMT might restore brain activity to normal level.

I shared DMT idea to Lydia (article author).

I've witnessed my father with dementia and a whole lot of other diseases (kidney failure, MS). He was happier in his last days^H^H^H^Hyears. Except for pain because of his back from lying down, an indirect result from his lower leg amputation.

(Somewhat related to the lucidity: he had good and bad days, and I never knew which one it was going to be before I went seeing him. This lead to both surprises and disappointments.

I also suspect my father used a lot of humor in his life as a way to memorize things. Because humor sticks. Now I remember all these dad jokes, and repeat the pattern with my daughter...)

Now, contrast to my mother in law. I'm currently the only person who speaks to her. Her 3 children are in fight with her, due to various reasons (well, I believe it all stems from autism which 2 of her 3 children now have a diagnosis for 1 of which she does not even know; and she surely has it as well, same for her oldest son). Her memory and brains are still quite well at the age of 77 (6 years older than my father when he passed away).

I don't have such a good memory, and it haunts me currently. It has haunted me all my life. Especially other people with autism have much, much better memory than I have.

I believe dementia has a rather clear purpose: to become happier in the last days of your life, to make life bearable.

Since I learned about this purpose, it makes it easier for me to know I have this gene. And more difficult to know how my partner is going to deal with the lack of dementia plus the occurrence of mine.

From my observations between my mother with my father, and myself with my father, it seems at first an internal struggle which the patient is trying to carefully hide. Eventually they admit it to other people. It seems that at some tipping point, the pain of dementia is more for the people who notice it, while the person with dementia does not suffer as much anymore.

Oh man, the ending to Coco just got even sadder...

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