[lit-ideas] Re: Superman Returns

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 02 Jul 2006 15:40:45 -0700

Lawrence Helm wrote:

I didn't actually see the death certificate but I was led to believe it said
something like "complications associated with dementia."

Dementia is a cluster of symptoms, specifically various degrees of cognitive impairment. This is the definition of dementia from


'The loss of intellectual functions (such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning) of sufficient severity to interfere with a person’s daily functioning. Dementia is not a disease itself but rather a group of symptoms that may accompany certain diseases or conditions. Symptoms may also include changes in personality, mood, and behavior. Dementia is irreversible when caused by disease or injury but may be reversible when caused by drugs, alcohol, hormone or vitamin imbalances, or depression.'

If your mother's dementia was caused by an ischemic stroke (a blockage of the arteries supplying blood to the brain) or by a series of them over time, it's not hard to see that her dementia and the loss of blood to her brain were related (in fact one would have followed from the other). But it is the dementia which would have followed from the stroke not the stroke from the dementia and the explanation given on the death certificate is in that way misleading.

I think emphysema is in the same category.  My father died of that.  At some
point his heart stopped, but would one want to quibble and call it heart

This isn't really analogous. Severe emphysema can and usually does lead to loss of pulmonary function. Yes, the heart will stop but the reason it stops is that the heart is a muscle and can no longer work when its supply of oxygenated blood fails. The heart stops at death but the reason it stops is of interest to the medical examiner.

Robert Paul
Reed College
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