Alzheimer Discourse: Some Sociolinguistic Dimensions

By Via Ramanathan | Go to book overview

6
A Schematic Understanding of Repetition in an AD Life Story

Frequently and with deliberation and respect we should revisit our early memories -- memories which do not fade and which hold the incorruptible essence of emotion. These memories are the parts of us which change least with time, perhaps because they come from periods when we were most in tune with time; and coming back to them we come upon ourselves-not the harried, hustling, temporary selves we see when we compromise with the mirror, but rather what Yeats called "the pilgrim soul," at once most our own and most confluent with the race.

-- Robert Grudin ( 1982)

This chapter shifts focus somewhat, in that it concentrates primarily on an Alzheimer's disease (AD) patient's self-narratives across time. I attempt to present a more holistic picture of this patient than I did of Tina, by combining ethnographic details of the patient's social world with a microanalysis of her narratives. I do so primarily because much happens in the patient's social world that, I believe, at least indirectly exacerbates her already deteriorating condition and makes her hold on the world and language that much more tenuous. The analysis of her social world includes in-depth descriptions of the day-care center and her life there, as well as a review of her major life events up until the time I started working with her.1 The analysis of her discourse entails a schematic analysis of repetition in her talk toward understanding ways in which her overall interpretive schema remains the same despite the ravages of the disease and a nonfacilitative social environment.

____________________
1
I was able to put together parts of Ellie's life on the basis of what people who knew her well told me about her. These included her daughter, caretaker, manager of the day-care center, and a friend from the apartment complex she used to live in.

-89-

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