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Article
December 30, 1911

TRANSITORY MENTAL CONFUSION AND DELIRIUM IN OLD AGE

Author Affiliations

Professor of Mental Diseases, University of Pennsylvania PHILADELPHIA

JAMA. 1911;LVII(27):2117-2119. doi:10.1001/jama.1911.04260120307001

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Abstract

We are all prone to fear that death or dementia may immediately follow any acute illness accompanied by mental symptoms in an old person and to regard all such cases as either the direct result of a sudden, incurable cerebral lesion or as the beginning of a senile dementia brought about by wide-spread and serious arteriosclerosis. We tend to look on these acute cases with the same apprehension with which we regard slowly on-coming dementia. We are the more inclined to view them gravely because the medical literature o n the disease of old age relates almost wholly to rapidly fatal or at least permanently irremediable ailment, and therefore we unconsciously—or subconsciously, to use the more fashionable work—form the belief that all mental disturbances in the aged are but forerunners of incurable illness, if not of speedy death. In a sense this belief is true. Even acute attacks that are

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