Hardback
September 7, 2021
9781421441269
English
216
60781
20
5
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$22.95 USD, £17.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
September 7, 2021
9781421441276
9781421441269
English
216
60781
20
5
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$22.95 USD, £17.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Finding the Right Words

A Story of Literature, Grief, and the Brain

In 1985, when Cindy Weinstein was a graduate student at UC Berkeley, her beloved father, Jerry, was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease. He was fifty-eight years old. Twelve years later, at age seventy, he died having lost all of his memories—along with his ability to read, write, and speak.

Finding the Right Words follows Weinstein's decades-long journey to come to terms with her father's dementia as both a daughter and an English professor. Although her lifelong love of language and literature gave her a way to talk about her grief, she realized that she also needed to learn more about the science of dementia to make sense of her father's death. To write her story, she collaborated with Dr. Bruce L. Miller, neurologist and director of the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, combining personal memoir, literature, and the science and history of brain health into a unique, educational, and meditative work.

Finding the Right Words is an invaluable guide for families dealing with a life-changing diagnosis. In chapters of profound and sometimes humorous remembrance, Weinstein relies on literature to describe the shock of her father's diagnosis and his loss of language and identity. Writing in response to Weinstein's deeply personal narrative, Dr. Miller describes the neurological processes responsible for the symptoms displayed by her father. He also reflects upon his own personal and professional experiences. In a final chapter about memory, Weinstein is able to remember her father before the diagnosis, and Miller explains how the brain creates memories while sharing some of his own. Their two perspectives give readers a fuller understanding of Alzheimer's than any one voice could.

About the Authors

Cindy Weinstein, PhD (SOUTH PASADENA, CA), is the Eli and Edythe Broad Professor of English at the California Institute of Technology. She is the author of Time, Tense, and American Literature: When is Now? Bruce L. Miller, MD (SAN FRANCISCO, CA), is the A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor in Neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, where he is the director of the Memory and Aging Center and the codirector of the Global Brain Health Institute. He is the coeditor of The Behavioral Neurology of Dementia.

Endorsements

"Combining the impassioned personal reflections of a daughter who lost her father to Alzheimer's twenty-five years ago with an erudite commentary on the scientific understanding of neurodegenerative diseases by a neuroscientist who is a leader in the field, this book is a powerful and innovative collaboration. A poignant, lyrical marriage of humanities and sciences."

- Farhat Husain, MD, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

"A nuanced, two-dimensional take on memory and memory loss. This multifaceted book is both innovative and accessible."

- Vaidehi Ramanathan, University of California, Davis

"This book beautifully blends the story of a daughter's grief with literary references and information about dementia from an empathetic clinician. A compelling story that will likely touch many who have lived through the loss of a family member with dementia."

- Anne M. Kenny, MD, Emerita Professor, University of Connecticut, author of Making Tough Decisions about End-of-Life Care in Dementia

"Using an interdisciplinary process, this appealing book aims to help families deal with a relative afflicted by dementia. Weinstein and Miller do a nice job interweaving personal anecdotes and science."

- Muriel R. Gillick, MD, Harvard Medical School, author of The Caregiver's Encyclopedia: A Compassionate Guide to Caring for Older Adults

"This book is a daughter's poignant act of mourning for the father she lost decades ago to Alzheimer's disease. But it is also a compelling and much-needed dialogue between a bereft family member and a doctor who understands not only the medical, but also the social emotional tolls of illness."

- Rachel Adams, Columbia University, author of Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability, and Discovery

"A book that brings humanity and science together is rare, but Finding the Right Words achieves this seamlessly and elegantly. Biography, diagnosis, history of behavioral neurology, and a daughter's love converge to produce a deep understanding of how brain disease affects personhood. Read this book to understand how your brain creates your self."

- Jeffrey Cummings, MD, ScD, Director, Chambers-Grundy Center for Transformative Neuroscience, University of Nevada Las Vegas

"This graceful literary/scientific tag-team work by Cindy and Bruce provides an in-depth look into the valuable role of memory in our lives and the evolving science behind one of the most important systems of the human experience. Enriching!"

- Susan Schneider Williams, Board Vice Chair, American Brain Foundation

"'Together we can do so much,' wrote Helen Keller. In this moving book, Cindy Weinstein, a literary critic, and Bruce Miller, a neurologist, combine forces. The former moves from brain (her father's) to story; the latter from story (Cindy's) to brain. From this collaborative circuit comes a new kind of felt knowledge."

- Ralph James Savarese, Grinnell College, author of See It Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor

"In Finding the Right Words, Weinstein and Miller succeed in merging science, literature, and great storytelling to help us understand what happens to the person and the brain in Alzheimer's disease. A must-read for all who believe we must break down the silos between science and the humanities to fully appreciate what it means to live with Alzheimer's disease."

- Brian Lawlor, MD, Trinity College Dublin / Global Brain Health Institute

"With neurologist Bruce L. Miller's illuminating medical commentary, Cindy Weinstein's narrative is at once informative and moving, useful and heartbreaking. Clinicians, family members of those with memory disorders, and readers of memoir and scientific nonfiction alike will feel privileged to experience this rich conversation."

- Suzanne Koven, MD, Massachusetts General Hospital / Harvard Medical School
Johns Hopkins University Press
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Hardback
September 7, 2021
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