Life stage and human development in dramatherapy with people who have dementia

Authored by: Joanna Jaaniste

Routledge International Handbook of Dramatherapy

Print publication date:  May  2016
Online publication date:  May  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138829725
eBook ISBN: 9781315728537
Adobe ISBN: 9781317543213


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In Australia, as in other Western countries, respect for elders is being lost in the economic and political discourse over dementia and its perceived social and fiscal consequences. Because of ‘gerontologists’ value-dependent assumptions’ (Tornstam 2005, p. 29), little is written about life-stage development for the elderly, even in dementia. This chapter advocates for sensitive use of developmental models, thereby avoiding the chance of ‘othering’ older people (Taussig 1980). The critique of the notion of autonomous existence through theories of intersubjectivity and embodiment (Merleau-Ponty 1945/1962) lends weight to Taussig’s warning, emphasising the value of the selfhood of people with dementia. Merleau-Ponty’s interpretation of embodiment and intersubjectivity seems to be missing from Kitwood’s (1997) otherwise enlightened views of how personhood may be maintained in dementia in an interpersonal dimension (Kontos 2004, 2005).

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