In my previous articles, I’ve discussed about personality types that may result in development of Alzheimer’s or dementia. I believe that dementia or Alzheimer’s is a result of a coping mechanism that has gone seriously wrong.
If you go into any Quora thread on Alzheimer’s (just go to Quora.com and search Alzheimer’s and read the Q&A), you would many people from around the world sharing cases of their loved ones who seemed to display totally out of character behavior. It is as if they changed to a different person.
The question is…. are they becoming a totally different person…. or are the suppressed emotions just pouring out?
Because once a person has Alzheimer’s….. conventions and simple manners no longer apply because the part of the brain that regulates these functions have failed. There is no longer any inhibitions and they would get more impulsive.
The most common complaint is the development of hostility and anger towards their loved ones and caregivers. But there are also other behavioral changes that shock the entire family.
For example, I have read a case whereby a daughter was puzzled why her mother who was always polite started to become rude and saying derogatory words towards women… about their weight and such. And the mother now speaks seductively towards young men. The same was of a case where a man who developed Alzheimer’s started to behave lewdly with young girls or young boys.
Dangerous to suppress emotions because they may burst out later…..
One of the characteristics I observe with people of Alzheimer’s is that they have a tendency to suppress strong emotions. It could be sadness, anger and grief. Or evil and unwholesome thoughts of wanting to harm/kill someone, pedophile tendencies, etc.
In a normal human brain, our executive functioning and logical brain would be able to suppress these tendencies or hide it from other people’s knowledge. But in a case of a person with Alzheimer’s, the particular brain function associated with it is no longer available.
Therefore, if a loved one seemed to change with dementia, perhaps, just perhaps it is their suppressed self emerging. If a person who everyone know as being the sweetest and most wonderful temper suddenly turned aggressive and violent….. it could indicate the outpouring of years of suppressed anger and turmoil.
Trust me, some people who seemed very nice and accommodating actually harbor a lot of repressed anger. Sometimes when I am with such people, there are little nuances that they do that made me realize that beneath that nice demeanor, lies a person who harbors inner resentment (not at me but at life in general). So I would not be surprised that if (touch wood) the person develops dementia, the anger would come pouring out.
It is the same as for individuals who harbors socially unaccepted sexual thoughts and preference for example pedophilia (sexual interest in prepubescent children), ephebophilia (sexual interest in mid to late adolescents), ophidiophilia (sexual interest in animals), etc. They may not act on these fantasies since they can go to jail if caught. They may also have a strong moral code which prohibits them from doing these stuff. But it is a lifelong internal battle of self hatred, utter confusion, fear and deep shame.
They have probably tried so desperately to forget or suppress these tendencies that it could be a possible reason why they eventually develop Alzheimer’s…..because the desperate attempt to forget and deny resulted in gradual deterioration of their brain functions.
Knowing this, it helps us to be more understanding and forgiving of their behaviours instead of getting angry. They would have suffered so much trying to banish away these tendencies. There is nothing that can be done at this stage except to understand and not judge them. Also do not punish or scold them.
If we look deeply into their personal history, we may be able to identify traumas from either their childhood or adolescents that may possibly trigger this. At this stage, there is nothing much that can be done but with care and patience, the negative energies may die out. And it is replaced by positive emotions.
Initially in the case of my mom, she was a little aggressive, unreasonably and moody as she thought she was back the childhood trauma of being unloved, starved and physically abused. I gave her a lot of patience and hugs, keep telling her that we are now in a place where she is loved and cared. And we always love her. I think of the time during childhood where she was so unloved and now that her mind has regressed back to be like a baby, I want to give her a sense of security, comfort and love, things that she never knew in her childhood.
With time, she changed to be more cheerful and now….she sings to herself at hours on end and are always smiling. People like her around because she looked so cheerful. I know it is not easy….as caregivers, we are already exhausted from caregiving and to add the nurturing and hugs it would not be easy. But seeing the change would be worth it. That your love one would eventually leave this world in peace and innocence instead of turmoil, confusion and anger.