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Are we intruders? A new description of Alzheimer disease

The book “Odette Toulemonde” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt contains 8 novellas; they are excellent. I will focus on “The intruder”. 

This novella was a practical eye opener for understanding what Alzheimer disease means.  Recent memory goes first and retrograde to when you were born.  Odile sees her face in the mirror and thinks that an old woman intruder is harassing her and switching and moving around her belongings.  She calls the police and finds no intruder. 

Odile confuses her son for her husband; she thinks that her son’s wife is her long dead husband’s mistress.  Odile is rewriting the introduction of her thesis that she published so many years ago.  Her son, wife, and two grandsons are relieved as Odile returns to the period before her wedding. Soon her son will cuddle his old mother as a newborn lady.

What is that? We are as old as our memory permits it, and as young as it fails? It is a shame that people with Alzheimer cannot write their diaries; we would have great recalling of early childhood emotions and feelings. 

I propose that professional psychologists should study these patients and record what they say as they retrograde in their memory.  We could have excellent descriptions of how children feel and react to adults’ behavior.

Eventually, we die alone: People around us are intruders.  An old dying person saying: “I think I don’t know anything (of life and the universe)” could be related to our dwindling memory capacity:  We can remember what a child knew. 

The worst part is that the rich varieties of colors and sounds that babies are endowed to see and hear, and that grown ups censure at an early stage in order to survive, are lacking to die in wonder and amazement..

Note: You may read the review of another novella in the French book “Odette Toulemonde” by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt : https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2009/07/09/it-is-a-beautiful-rainy-day/


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December 2020
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