Untangling Selfhood: The History and Experience of Alzheimer's Disease[From the website announcement, as posted to DS-Hum. Links added.--PLR]
A Conference Marking the 100th Anniversary of Alzheimer's Disease as a Diagnostic Category
March 29-31, 2007
The Nittany Lion Inn
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, Pennsylvania
Sponsored by the Disability Studies Program, with the support of the Gerontology Center at Penn State, the Rock Ethics Institute, and the Science, Technology and Society Program
One hundred years ago, German psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer presented the case history of a 51-year-old woman with dementia named Auguste Deter that would eventually be the basis for the diagnostic label AD. This anniversary will be marked at several major international conferences by celebratory accounts of a century of scientific progress in unraveling the mysterious pathology of the disease. Although the striking photograph of Auguste Deter (shown above, right) will likely be seen often in these festivities, her actual experience and the experience of people who suffer with dementia is not likely to receive serious attention. Penn State's Conference will mark the anniversary by bringing together scholars from around the world who do research on various aspects of the history and experience of Alzheimer's disease.
In recent years, people with cognitive disorders and their advocates have challenged the idea that selfhood is destroyed by the loss of cognitive abilities. Taking the experience of people with dementia and other cognitive disorders seriously has thus opened a re-examination of current concepts and practices among clinicians, researchers and care providers, and raised new and difficult questions for biomedical ethicists and policymakers. Taking this experience seriously has also troubled the boundary between cognitive disorders and normality, opening up new possibilities for scholars in the humanities and social sciences who work on questions of memory, selfhood, and culture.
The 100th Anniversary of what has become perhaps the most prominent of cognitive disorders offers an opportunity to bring together scholars from around the world who are working on various aspects of the experience of dementia and other severe cognitive disorders, but who seldom have an opportunity to share their ideas and insights across the disciplinary boundaries that have divided the modern university.
For more information about participants, topics, and reservations, check the website for the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State, or contact Dr. Jesse Ballenger .