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Self Portrait Of Alzheimers Disease [Pix]

William was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease in 1995 and was immediately put on to new drug which had to be monitored. We regularly attended the neurological hospital in Queens Square where we were fortunate to find in nurse Ron Isaacs who regularly assessed him, a sympathetic listener. William, bravely began to paint himself, desperately trying to understand what was happening to his mind. As the pictures progressed he showed them to Nurse Isaacs and other members of the group who were attending him, all of whom were part of Dr Rossors team. They found them clinically interesting they asked permission to create a paper for the Lancet.

In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity Williams efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness.

The great talent remains, but the method changes. He sometimes uses water-colour and paints a series of masks, perhaps because he could more quickly express his fear. In both the oils and water-colours these marvellous self portraits express his desperate attempt to understand his condition. There is a new freedom of expression, the paint is applied more thickly, art-historically speaking the artist seems less linear and classical, more expressionist, and I see ghosts of his German heritage. William is still alive, but can no longer draw and seems to have withdrawn into a solitary and private world, sometimes making sounds which I imagine for him is talking, and very occasionally, I believe he recognises me.











The portrait art of William Utermohlen over an 8 year period.

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Date: 08/07/15 01:45 PM

6 Responses to Self Portrait Of Alzheimers Disease [Pix]

  1. Profile photo of ElectricEye
    ElectricEye Male 40-49
    2720 posts
    August 6, 2014 at 8:34 am
    Link: Self Portrait Of Alzheimers Disease - The portrait art of William Utermohlen over an 8 year period.
  2. Profile photo of BeccaBunn
    BeccaBunn Female 18-29
    185 posts
    August 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm
    That is very moving. Wow.
  3. Profile photo of normalfreak2
    normalfreak2 Male 18-29
    3033 posts
    August 7, 2014 at 2:33 pm
    I gotta say I hope I never have to suffer with this disease. If I ever get this disease I`m going to either request I be killed or I`ll take my own life. I just don`t want to see myself forget everyone and everything I know.
  4. Profile photo of ferdyfred
    ferdyfred Male 40-49
    13515 posts
    August 7, 2014 at 3:06 pm
    My Grandmother had this - and it was the most heartbreaking thing - She forgot who I was, but it was my step dad Fred - who I felt for, he cared for her for years - and in her last few months she didnt know who he was - her son, he tried to keep face, and I spent many weeks with him and my mom trying to help him as much as I could. Horrible Horrible Disease
  5. Profile photo of llaa
    llaa Male 30-39
    1627 posts
    August 7, 2014 at 5:44 pm
    I cared for a family member dying of Alzheimers.

    Worst disease I`ve seen anyone die from, watching the progression of a bright go-getter into a babbling burdensome fool in the end for so long. The most thankless and saddest care Ive ever provided for the dying and yet she was so sweet even nearest the end... damn onions...
  6. Profile photo of Tiredofnicks
    Tiredofnicks Male 30-39
    5101 posts
    August 8, 2014 at 12:59 am
    I don`t know really, it must be horrible for the people around you but for yourself? You`re dying but don`t know it, and that has to be a mercy in my mind.

    My gran, 88 when she died, had abdominal cancer and knew that she had 2 years left. Those two years turned her from being a social, loving, 7km-walk-every-morning supergran into a depressed shut-in, and that was so very hard to watch.

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