The Forgetting: Understanding Alzheimer’s by Shenk

Topic: Psychiatry
Words: 287 Pages: 1

The book, The Forgetting – A Portrait of Alzheimer’s, reveals some important facts about Alzheimer’s disease (AD). In an attempt to demystify some early notions about the disease, the author, David Shenk, outlines how the disease got discovered and its development in the patient’s brain. He also explores the actions that AD has on a patient’s daily life. Improved life expectancy witnessed in the United States over the past few years means that many people live up to advanced ages than before (Shenk, 2003). Subsequently, the probability of acquiring AD has been dramatically increasing in recent years.

He noted that as of the year 2002, about 4-6 million Americans had AD. Shenk is a skillful writer, and the fact that he shows a lot of compassion and empathy for those suffering from the disease makes me trust his arguments.

In perfectly crafted prose, the author skillfully balances narrative and exposition to deliver a technical explanation of the disease that has disturbed millions worldwide. The fact that he uses lively characters such as Frau Auguste D., Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jonathan Swift, and Ronald Reagan renders a lot of credibility to his story. The choice of these specific patients for his case study is not accidental but rather strategic.

Frau Auguste is indeed recorded as the first Alois Alzheimer’s patient. Both Jonathan Swift and Ralph Waldo Emerson were writers who were memory loss victims who could not make sense of even what they had written. That underscores the seriousness of the disease and the effects it has on its victims. It is indeed thrilling that the author put a lot of work into the production of this book, which should be recommended to patients or relatives of AD victims.


Shenk, D. (2003). The Forgetting: Understanding Alzheimer’s: A biography of disease. Flamingo.

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