Mod+ Dementia and the soul

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#1
I just had an uncle pass away after a very long bout of Alzheimer's. I've got another family member severely affected by it.

Alongside going through the emotions associated with this, a question arose in my mind as to when the soul or spirit of a person with dementia leaves the body. This question is intended for those who tend to believe in the survival of personal consciousness. I'm also not so much looking for speculation (although feel free to do so) rather than what information people may have come across about this topic - whether though mediumistic or other types of after-death communication, or NDEs, etc.

In the case of a person with very advanced dementia (where they are pretty much "not there" anymore), does the soul leave the body at physical death, or has it exited at some point before? I know we can get into concepts of a Higher Self operating in another dimension while the tiny "you" continues in this brain-handicapped consciousness - but I'm thinking of that simple-enough "you" that makes its exit, gets greeted by family, etc., on the other side. The "usual" narrative, whether you believe it or are skeptical of it. Have you come across afterlife info that says something about this?

Thanks in advance!
 
#2
What I've heard is that when someone is like that, the spirit might be out of the body, but not totally disconnected and still nearby, ie they haven't completed the transition but they aren't suffering physically. They can still come back into the body if there is some improvement in the physical condition or for terminal lucidity. And they might be aware of spirit friends keeping them company.
 
#3
Hi Ian sorry to hear about your uncle.

I remember reading about a young man in a persistent vegetative state who apparently communicated via a medium. In general what I have read tends to concur with Jim. There is quite a bit to suggest this detachment may occur when we sleep though I have no personal experience of it.
 
#4
Ian,

I don't know if there was any suggestion of this in the case of your relative, but there are numbers of reports of people with severe dementia recovering their mental faculties just prior to their death:

http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/death-bed-visions-301825.html

(you may need to trawl down this list to find exactly the sort of case I am talking about)

Such cases obviously present severe problems for the conventional idea that the brain is destroyed - and with it, the mind - in such cases.

There are also suggestions that people straddle the barrier of death for a while - as in the first case reported here:

http://www.finalwordsproject.org/visitor-between-worlds.html

David
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#5
What I've heard is that when someone is like that, the spirit might be out of the body, but not totally disconnected and still nearby, ie they haven't completed the transition but they aren't suffering physically. They can still come back into the body if there is some improvement in the physical condition or for terminal lucidity. And they might be aware of spirit friends keeping them company.
Hi Ian sorry to hear about your uncle.

I remember reading about a young man in a persistent vegetative state who apparently communicated via a medium. In general what I have read tends to concur with Jim. There is quite a bit to suggest this detachment may occur when we sleep though I have no personal experience of it.
Jim and Obiwan, thanks a lot for your info. That's good to know.

During the funeral ceremony yesterday, I was left wondering whether his recent passing had been the "moment of departure", and that my uncle was in the process of reuniting with loved ones on the other side, or whether this had happened quite a while ago.

I guess I'm left wondering what is going on with dementia patients who are just "half" there, instead of "completely" (appearance-wise) not there. I guess it probably depends on the individual case. The idea of the spirit returning to the body for terminal lucidity makes sense to me.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#6
Ian,

I don't know if there was any suggestion of this in the case of your relative, but there are numbers of reports of people with severe dementia recovering their mental faculties just prior to their death:

http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/death-bed-visions-301825.html

(you may need to trawl down this list to find exactly the sort of case I am talking about)

Such cases obviously present severe problems for the conventional idea that the brain is destroyed - and with it, the mind - in such cases.

There are also suggestions that people straddle the barrier of death for a while - as in the first case reported here:

http://www.finalwordsproject.org/visitor-between-worlds.html

David
Thanks David. Yes I'm aware of this and tend to believe all of this (when I'm not in a negative emotionally-motivated irrationally skeptical mood, meaning that my mood dictates my belief rather than a more detached reading of the evidence), I was just wondering at what point the soul vacates the heavily impaired brain in a person whose body is just continuing to go on with apparently little mind left, or at the very least little personality.

You know, I'll share this. When my uncle died, I assumed there had been no terminal lucidity. He was very advanced in the condition - hadn't talked for years, little or no sign of recognition of anybody whatsoever, no apparent kind of cognitive activity whatsoever, strict minimum in terms of motor activity (eating). His death process started when his brain suddenly stopped his digestion. And the decision was made from there to not prolong unnecessarily this function, and let the brain cease the breathing and heartbeat. And from there it took 24 hours.

But I've since heard from someone who talked with my uncle's partner, who cared for him very closely through all his illness (something like 12-13 years), that a day or so before his death (before he fell into unconsciousness), she was completely taken aback when he suddenly hugged her very strongly. That's not a crystal clear case of "lucidity", but given his extreme condition, it definitely sounds like it's in the ballpark.

She's finding it very hard - I hope this is helping her just a little. Unfortunately the whole family are "unbelievers", and it's hard seeing them all suffer and not being able to provide any kind of comfort re: survival data. I often wonder if for most of us on this planet, it's part of our plan to just be completely under the illusion of completely finiteness and separateness from The All.

Thanks everyone. By the way, I love all you Skeptiko dudes and dudettes. :)
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#7
Hi Ian sorry to hear about your uncle.

I remember reading about a young man in a persistent vegetative state who apparently communicated via a medium. In general what I have read tends to concur with Jim. There is quite a bit to suggest this detachment may occur when we sleep though I have no personal experience of it.
I recall reading something like this as well, but sadly I can't recall the source off the top of my head. Basically the soul was still attached to the body but was able to communicate with people who were deceased along with the medium.

I also recall reading ADCs of this type but all in the form of dreams - the person who was subjected to dementia in life communicates in the dream that they are well, and the dreamer can see mental faculties restored.

As I usually say my only certainty about all this is the falseness of materialism...but I do think there is a way to make sense of this that I've previously mentioned.

Short version of that idea is your "transphysical person" utilizes your brain to direct the cells of your physical body to allow your incarnation in mundane reality to move in accordance with your will. Unfortunately the localization of your consciousness can get jammed up due to this symbiotic relationship between mind & matter which is what accounts for mental illnesses that vanish upon death.
 
#8
I just had an uncle pass away after a very long bout of Alzheimer's. I've got another family member severely affected by it.

Alongside going through the emotions associated with this, a question arose in my mind as to when the soul or spirit of a person with dementia leaves the body. This question is intended for those who tend to believe in the survival of personal consciousness. I'm also not so much looking for speculation (although feel free to do so) rather than what information people may have come across about this topic - whether though mediumistic or other types of after-death communication, or NDEs, etc.

In the case of a person with very advanced dementia (where they are pretty much "not there" anymore), does the soul leave the body at physical death, or has it exited at some point before? I know we can get into concepts of a Higher Self operating in another dimension while the tiny "you" continues in this brain-handicapped consciousness - but I'm thinking of that simple-enough "you" that makes its exit, gets greeted by family, etc., on the other side. The "usual" narrative, whether you believe it or are skeptical of it. Have you come across afterlife info that says something about this?

Thanks in advance!
My Grandmother recently passed after a long ordeal with dementia. It did accentuate questions in my mind about the relationship between memory and identity.

I can't say I have any answers, but I certainly hope those with advanced dementia aren't really there anymore to be experiencing suffering like that. If I ever start to go that direction I think I'd rather go on a walkabout and never return than go through that process.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#9
If I ever start to go that direction I think I'd rather go on a walkabout and never return than go through that process.
I feel you, Hurm, and I'm personally definitely with you there.

Slightly OT, I caught this 60 Minutes episode a while back, studying people over 90, and there was this intriguing bit about looking at the brains donated by people who have died, and looking at the "the telltale" brain signs (plaques and tangles) of Alzheimer's. In some people, those brain signs were there but the person wasn't suffering from dementia, and vice versa there were people who had dementia but had brains without those injuries.

The revelant part starts around 17-18 minutes or so, until about 24+ min.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/living-to-90-and-beyond/
 
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#10
@Ian
I think this possibly one of those cases where the extent of our personal experiences is a particularly important factor. Whether it's the gradual bereavement of dementia or actual physical loss through death.

I find that I can read about the research and experiences of others but when confronted by the various malfunctions of dementia or the stone cold solid reality of bereavement it's harder to reconcile it with survival without any convincing, direct personal experience. Well, that is, speaking for myself.

For me, it's also important to revisit my 'research' especially at such times because in some ways it's easier to be critical of it in a way that's seems more 'real' rather than simply in an academic way if that makes sense?

In the end maybe it's the difference between thinking we probably survive and knowing that we do. Especially when we have some important immediate personal stake in the situation.
 
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#11
I'm sorry to hear about your uncle's dementia and suffering associated with it, Ian.

a question arose in my mind as to when the soul or spirit of a person with dementia leaves the body
Lets just take this from the perspective of the actual person themselves, leaving aside what it means. There's plenty of good research now documenting the experiences of the nearly dying (not NDE but DBV etc) . The dying seem to move back and forth, in and out of this world right until the end. So it's an experience of moving into a place of love and light and peace, deceased relatives etc (according to what these people report) and then coming back again. My guess is that some are better at doing this than others but once they get the hang of it I'll bet it's a rather nifty experience.

They know very well when the final exit is coming, they are clearly given a time (which they can alter a little if they wish). With people suffering from dementia
I don't see why it will be any different for them but of course if their brain is very badly eroded away it's going to very difficult to use it to communicate satisfactorily. They sometimes do though. And I'm quite certain that they realise they are not the body just like the patients leaving their bodies behind in cardiac arrest.

I'm not going to post links because I don't think you need me repeating myself. Just BTW I've a long email exchange with someone who survived several cardiac arrests and was defibrillated 9 times. His experience is extraordinary and if he gives me permission to post some of it I will. All the best Ian

BTW it was Steve who introduced me to it and there's a video on here (different thread) with Chris French in which the guy relates a small portion of it.
 
#12
I'm sorry to hear about your uncle's dementia and suffering associated with it, Ian.


Lets just take this from the perspective of the actual person themselves, leaving aside what it means. There's plenty of good research now documenting the experiences of the nearly dying (not NDE but DBV etc) . The dying seem to move back and forth, in and out of this world right until the end. So it's an experience of moving into a place of love and light and peace, deceased relatives etc (according to what these people report) and then coming back again. My guess is that some are better at doing this than others but once they get the hang of it I'll bet it's a rather nifty experience.

They know very well when the final exit is coming, they are clearly given a time (which they can alter a little if they wish). With people suffering from dementia
I don't see why it will be any different for them but of course if their brain is very badly eroded away it's going to very difficult to use it to communicate satisfactorily. They sometimes do though. And I'm quite certain that they realise they are not the body just like the patients leaving their bodies behind in cardiac arrest.

I'm not going to post links because I don't think you need me repeating myself. Just BTW I've a long email exchange with someone who survived several cardiac arrests and was defibrillated 9 times. His experience is extraordinary and if he gives me permission to post some of it I will. All the best Ian

BTW it was Steve who introduced me to it and there's a video on here (different thread) with Chris French in which the guy relates a small portion of it.
Well put Tim.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#13
Lets just take this from the perspective of the actual person themselves, leaving aside what it means. There's plenty of good research now documenting the experiences of the nearly dying (not NDE but DBV etc) . The dying seem to move back and forth, in and out of this world right until the end. So it's an experience of moving into a place of love and light and peace, deceased relatives etc (according to what these people report) and then coming back again. My guess is that some are better at doing this than others but once they get the hang of it I'll bet it's a rather nifty experience.

They know very well when the final exit is coming, they are clearly given a time (which they can alter a little if they wish). With people suffering from dementia
I don't see why it will be any different for them but of course if their brain is very badly eroded away it's going to very difficult to use it to communicate satisfactorily. They sometimes do though. And I'm quite certain that they realise they are not the body just like the patients leaving their bodies behind in cardiac arrest.
Thanks for this Tim. That's an interesting perspective. I guess in the case of a person suffering from dementia, when the dementia gets really important (beginning of loss of personality and major cognitive functions affected) is when that leaving-and-coming back starts to take place, not in the very early stages of the disease. Putting aside the idea of that stuff happening in our sleep when we are not aware of it.
 
#14
Thanks for this Tim. That's an interesting perspective. I guess in the case of a person suffering from dementia, when the dementia gets really important (beginning of loss of personality and major cognitive functions affected) is when that leaving-and-coming back starts to take place, not in the very early stages of the disease. Putting aside the idea of that stuff happening in our sleep when we are not aware of it.
No worries, Ian but you and many others on here are just as informed about this as me. Peter Fenwick would be something of an authority on the matter I guess, I'm just someone who reads all (or most of) the research if I can.

From studying NDE research for donkeys years and speaking to various survivors of NDE's, I think we have some kind of a "spiritual" or "subtle" body which is the "real us." A popular definition of this is the blanket term "consciousness" but I think it's so much more than that. Naturally, this produces much merriment amongst our rational sceptic friends. But if they would read all the many accounts relevant to this, one has to conclude that at least that's how it feels to the people concerned.
 
#16
In the past, I discussed a 1996 paper that shows how short term memories are still formed even when they are not manifesting in normal waking life (they manifested themselves in the dreams of the amnesiac, who retained access to long term memories). It supports that access is not the same as formation and I tend to incline that what is lost in dementia and Alzheimer's is also the same "access" that this amnesiac lost, only that in a much thorough manner by obliterating almost the entire structure. Loss of short term memory manifests in forms that are eerily similar to dementia, we need access to it in order to place ourselves in space and time, to react to people and events... It is not a stretch to think that access to long term memory works in a similar, yet independent manner and can be equally damaged without affecting the memories per se.

I am not sure if what you would call the soul really "leaves" or if it stops being accessed, but by all materialist means, terminal lucidity should be impossible (I'm sure that Linda would come up with some random explanation involving "more power" or something, but by materialist terms there is nothing left to produce these moments) and yet it is well recorded in patients that suffer from Alzheimer's, which is possibly the worst disease in this category.
 
#17
In the past, I discussed a 1996 paper that shows how short term memories are still formed even when they are not manifesting in normal waking life (they manifested themselves in the dreams of the amnesiac, who retained access to long term memories). It supports that access is not the same as formation and I tend to incline that what is lost in dementia and Alzheimer's is also the same "access" that this amnesiac lost, only that in a much thorough manner by obliterating almost the entire structure. Loss of short term memory manifests in forms that are eerily similar to dementia, we need access to it in order to place ourselves in space and time, to react to people and events... It is not a stretch to think that access to long term memory works in a similar, yet independent manner and can be equally damaged without affecting the memories per se.

I am not sure if what you would call the soul really "leaves" or if it stops being accessed, but by all materialist means, terminal lucidity should be impossible (I'm sure that Linda would come up with some random explanation involving "more power" or something, but by materialist terms there is nothing left to produce these moments) and yet it is well recorded in patients that suffer from Alzheimer's, which is possibly the worst disease in this category.
Interesting point.
For arguments sake though; I can't see a problem necessarily from the materialist perspective if one considers it's the mechanism for recall which is damaged as opposed to the actual stored memory (whatever the hell that is).
 
#18
Interesting point.
For arguments sake though; I can't see a problem necessarily from the materialist perspective if one considers it's the mechanism for recall which is damaged as opposed to the actual stored memory (whatever the hell that is).
There is no materialistic theory supporting that, AFAIK. Materialist theories revolve around the synapses or some sort of global (holo) storage, both would be obliterated in an Alzheimer's patient. If memories are "stored in the brain", this disease will get them, remember that it chews down to the microtubules.

Edit: And terminal lucidity would remain unreachable, if the structure responsible for access is damaged, there is no reason why approaching death would randomly restore it. Even if it did, if memories were stored in synapses or globally, the damage would be too severe to reach the type of lucidity mentioned, too many missing pieces.
 
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