“It ain’t what you do, but the way that you do it”: Memory, awareness and threat in dementia will be presented by Professor Richard Cheston.
Richard will discuss how traditional approaches to memory and cognition in psychology emphasise the impact of neurological processes in reducing capacity. The memory of people living with dementia is framed in terms of the deficits affecting both short-term memory and autobiographical memory.
While autobiographical memories may be diminished with reminiscences containing conflated or factually incorrect material, nevertheless these memories are clearly highly valued and important. This may be because recalling the past is an important way of adapting to the present; more specifically, memory acts to enhance self-continuity, restore self-esteem and provide life with meaning and purpose. In this way, the recounting of autobiographical memories functions to protect the self from threat.
This talk will draw on evidence from quantitative, laboratory based research and qualitative analysis of narratives from clinical research to argue that nostalgic autobiographical memories play an important part in protecting people with dementia from the existential distress of living with this condition.
In memory of Beatrice Godwin
Beatrice started her studies at Bath in 2003 completing a Masters of Research in European Studies. She then continued her studies and began a PhD in 2005, which focused on the experiences of people living with dementia in the United Kingdom. Beatrice had an interest in the communication and insight of people with advanced dementia.
Shortly after starting of her doctoral studies, Beatrice was diagnosed with lymphoma and her ill health resulted in a number of admissions to hospital and suspensions of her study. In 2014, she was in remission and resumed work on her doctoral project.
Unfortunately early in 2015 Beatrice became unwell again and the return of lymphoma was diagnosed as terminal. She had started her fieldwork and was interviewing people with dementia in residential homes across the South West. She undertook these interviews alongside intensive medical treatments whilst continuing to write about her research.
Beatrice was blessed with great personal intellectual qualities, an unfailing tenacity and commitment to her research despite illness and discomfort.
In memory of Beatrice's work, personality and contribution to the Centre for Deathand Society (CDAS) community, we are hosting the inaugural Beatrice Godwin Memorial Lecture. This will become an annual event in the CDAS calendar.
Richard Cheston is Professor of Dementia Research at the University of the West of England. His primary research interests relate to understanding the emotional impact of dementia and developing psychological interventions for people affected by dementia.
Richard completed both his undergraduate degree and doctoral studies in Scotland, before training as a Clinical Psychologist in the south of England. He then spent 25 years working as a Clinical Psychologist in the NHS in Bath and Western Wiltshire.