Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Terry Pratchett: I'm slipping away a bit at a time... and all I can do is watch it happen | Mail Online

Author Terry Pratchett writes about his experiences with PCA alzheimer's with moving frankness. Because his rare form of Alzheimer's largely focuses on the loss of physical skills, he remains articulate and reasoned in his view. He strikes an important blow for cognitive accuracy in facing the world as it is and not as we wish it could be.

It is a strange life when you ‘come out’. People get embarrassed, lower their voices, get lost for words. Part of the report I’m helping to launch today reveals that 50 per cent of Britons think there is a stigma surrounding dementia. Only 25 per cent think there is still a stigma associated with cancer.

The stories in the report - of people being told they were too young or intelligent to have dementia; of neighbours crossing the street and friends abandoning them - are like something from a horror novel.

We can't find a cure for something we are afraid to talk about, right?

Pratchett's article seems to me like it could come straight out of a coursebook on cognitive accuracy:
What is needed is will and determination. The first step is to talk openly about dementia because it’s a fact, well enshrined in folklore, that if we are to kill the demon then first we have to say its name.

Pratchett has given $1 million pounds to help push research on Alzheimer's forward, and to break through the superstitious prejudice that most people still feel about this very physical disease.

To see the full report, Dementia: Out Of The Shadows go to www.alzheimers.org.uk, or the Alzheimer’s Research Trust www.alzheimers-research.org.uk

Friday, October 03, 2008

Two words

Two simple words can end many a pointless argument: "to me". Consider Benjamin Franklin's observation:

Many a long dispute among divines may be thus abridged: It is so. It is not so. It is so. It is not so.

Imagine it recast with "to me":
It is so, to me. It is not so, to me......okay, let's go have a beer.

In my youth, my well-educated, Catholic family used a lot of Latin in normal conversation. One phrase stuck with me and blossomed much later when I learned more about "to me" and general relativity:
De gustibus non disputandum.

"In matters of taste, we cannot dispute." In other words, if you add "to me", you change from making a statement that others can challenge ("butter is good") to one they cannot challenge ("I consider butter delicious and healthful.") They may NOT consider butter delicious or healthful, but you didn't say THAT, you said YOU CONSIDER it so. To disagree with that, they would have to be inside your head, and they are not. They can only take your word on the validity of the statement--only YOU know if you actually consider butter delicious.

Applying this to your reactions to others offers an equally agreeable respite: if you simply add, out loud or sotto voce, "to you" whenever someone states their opinion as fact, you can simply accept their statement as one about their "state of mind" and moderate your reaction. You may disagree with the view they appear to hold, but you have no reason or motivation to disagree that they hold it. This can greatly reduce stress in otherwise stressful interactions.

Or so it seems, to me. ;-)