Changing the Wind

Below is the speech given by James Smith at the 2008 Alzheimer’s Public Policy Forum Candlelight Vigil earlier this week. His words–moving, clear, and true–blew me away. Like a powerful wind. Changing. 2008 Alzheimer’s Public Policy Forum – Candlelight Vigil Washington, D.C. Remarks by James W Smith “Thank you. It is an incredible honor to be asked to speak to you tonight. And it is especially fitting that we are here at the Capitol reflecting pool, at a time when reflecting inside ourselves – as individuals, as a nation, and as a society – has never been more important. People have said that in Washington, DC it is easy to tell who our elected officials are. They are the ones standing on

Emotions Unleashed

Not too long ago, I studied acting for a year and a half. As with any approach to acting, the ultimate goal was to ‘live truthfully under imaginary circumstances.’ You don’t pretend to be enraged, grief-stricken, or in love, you actually feel these things in response to what happens. And when an actor is able to achieve this, the effect on the audience is powerful (I always think of Shirley MacLaine screaming in a heartsick rage on the beach with Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment. She moves me instantly to tears every time). As grown adults, my classmates and I found this goal to be an extraordinarily difficult one to grasp. To respond readily with honest emotion, you must be able to tur

Busting The Myth of Alzheimer's

Peter Whitehouse and Daniel George wrote a book called The Myth of Alzheimer’s. In it, they claim that “there is no such thing as Alzheimer’s Disease.” “Alzheimer’s Disease represents our culture’s attempt to make sense of the natural process of brain aging that we cannot fully control.” So, in an attempt to control it, “we’ve created an antagonist” and named it Alzheimer’s Disease. They claim that because we don’t know the “singular cause” of Alzheimer’s, because we can’t cure it, and because we can’t differentiate Alzheimer’s from normal brain aging, we should stop diagnosing people with this “label.” Labeling someone with Alzheimer’s only causes them harm from the stigma attached to it. W

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