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On the Brain
July 2018

Til Neglect Do Us Part

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Neurology, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York
JAMA Neurol. 2018;75(7):785-786. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2018.1185

The room was silent. There was hardly a sound, even from the telemetry monitors in the room. There was no talking, either to each other or to hospital staff. The 2 patients, husband and wife, may not have been fully aware that they were even in the same room.

For days, they laid in bed largely in silence, neglecting not only themselves but their 47 years of marriage, as if the other roommate was a complete stranger. There was no husband-wife chatter, no fighting, no conversation, and no jokes. When we interviewed and examined each of them, the other did not chime in with any input or any emotional discharge to suggest compassion or empathy for their spouse. Neglect had removed their most basic components of marriage.

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