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Dementia Definition & Legal Meaning

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Definition & Citations:

A form of insanity resulting from degeneration or disorder of the brain (ideo- pathic or traumatic, but not congenital) and characterized by general mental weakness and decrepitude, forgetfuiness, loss of coherence, and total inability to reason, but not accompanied by delusions or uncontrollable impulses. Pyott v. Pyott, 90 III. App. 221; Hall v. Unger, 2 Abb. U. S. 510, Fed. Cas. No. 5,949; Dennett v. Dennett, 44 N. H. 531, 84 Am. Dec. 97; People v. Lake, 2 Parker, Cr. R. (N. Y.) 218. By some writers dementia is classed as a terminal stage of various forms of insanity, and hence may follow mania, for example, as its final condition. Among the sub-divisions of de- mentia should be noticed the following: Acuite primary dementia is a form of temporary dementia, though often extreme in its intensity, and occurring in young people or adolescents, accompanied by general physical debility or exhaustion and induced by conditions likely to produce that state, as malnutrition, overwork, dissipation, or too rapid growth. Dementia paralytica is a progressive form of insanity, beginning with slight degeneration of the physical, intellectual, and moral powers, and leading to complete loss of mentality, or imbecility, with general paralysis. Also called paresis, paretic dementia, or cirrhosis of the brain, or (popularly) “softening of the brain.” Dementia prircox. A term applicable either to the early stages of dementia or to the dementia of adolescence, but more commonly applied to the latter. It is often (but not invariably) attributable to onanism or self-abuse, and is characterized by mental and moral stupidity, absence of any strong feeling of the impressions of life or interest in its events, blunting or obscuration of the moral sense, weakness of judgment, flightiness of thought, senseless laughter without mirth, automatic obedience, and apathetic despondency. (Kraepelin.) Senile dementia. Dementia occurring in persons of advanced age, and characterized by slowness and weakness of the mental processes and general physical degeneration, verging on or passing into imbecility, indicating the breaking down of the mental powers in advance of bodily decay. ITiett v. Shull. 36 W. Va. 5a3, 15 S. E. 146: Pyott v. Pvott, 191 HI. 280. 61 N. E. 88; McDaniel v. McCoy, 68 Mich. 332. 36 N. W. 84; llamon v. Hamon, 180 Mo. 685, 79 S. W. 422. Toxic dementia. Weakness of mind or feeble cerebral activity, approaching imbecility, ‘resulting from continued administration or use of slow poisons or of the mere active poisons in repeated small doses, as in cases of lead poisoning and in some cases of addiction to such drugs as opium or alcohol.


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