A growing epidemic, Alzheimer’s punishes not only its victims but also those married to them. This book analyzes how Alzheimer’s is quietly transforming the way we think about love today. Without meaning to become rebels, many people who find themselves "married to Alzheimer’s" deflate the predominant notion of a conventional marriage. By falling in love again before their ill spouse dies, those married to Alzheimer’s come into conflict with central values of Western civilization – personal, sexual, familial, religious, and political. Those who wait sadly for a spouse’s death must sometimes wonder if the show of fidelity is necessary and whom it helps.
Most books on Alzheimer’s focus on those who have it, as opposed to those who care for someone with it. This book offers a powerful and searching meditation on the extent to which someone married to Alzheimer’s should be expected to suffer loneliness. The diagnosis of dementia should not amount to a prohibition of sexual activity for both spouses. Portmann encourages readers to risk honesty in assessing the moral dilemma, using high-profile cases such as Nancy Reagan and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor to illustrate the enormity of the problem. Ideal for classes considering the ethics of aging and sexuality.
|Publisher:||Taylor & Francis|
|Product dimensions:||9.10(w) x 6.20(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
John Portmann is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. He studied philosophy at Yale and Cambridge Universities. He is the author of When Bad Things Happen to Other People (2000), Sex and Heaven (2003), and A History of Sin (2007).
Table of Contents
Introduction: Married to Alzheimer's viii
1 Sexual Entitlement: Marriage is for Sex and Sex is for Marriage 1
2 Selflessness: Opting to Live without Sex While Still Married 23
3 Sex with Strangers 45
4 Senior Sex and Disgust 63
5 Desertion 78
6 The Sexually Deprived in American Prisons 98
7 Film and Fiction as Moral Cues 114
8 Sexual Generosity 137
Conclusion: Love After Alzheimer's 157
Select Bibliography 185
What People are Saying About This
"John Portmann is to be applauded for tackling a challenging and complex issue that he rightly points out is largely unacknowledged but that will only become more important as the mass of Baby Boomers continues to age."—Stephen Sapp, University of Miami
"The Ethics of Sex and Alzheimer’s confronts matters of sexual ethics that are usually left unspoken, but which can (and do) lead to great confusion and pain for otherwise loving and committed partners. Reading this book will not only help the reader to engage sexual ethics at important religious and social levels, it will prepare the reader to confront the possibility of having to navigate a life after the interruption of Alzheimer’s.
"This book is a "must read" for a broad range of scholars in religion and ethics, their students, clergy, medical care givers, and most importantly: partners and spouses."—Richard W. McCarty, Mercyhurst University
"Dr. Portman takes the field of religious study to a whole new level with this new book. He confronts the world and asks us each to look deep inside – to examine our feelings as we ponder a relationship dilemma involving dementia… now the cat is out of the bag: ‘until death do us part’ may now have a whole new meaning."—Doug Wornell, geriatric psychiatrist and the author of Wandering Explorers: Practical Dementia for Families and Caregivers
"John Portmann has written a thoughtful and moving meditation on contemporary sexual ethics, particularly respecting the sex of older people. While billed as a book about sex and Alzheimer's, it is far more than that; it is a far-ranging plea to consider the virtue of generosity in all of our sexual dealings and in our attitudes toward those of others."—Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, Indiana University