Research Article

Ethical problems in feeding patients with advanced dementia.

Br Med J 1980; 281 doi: (Published 27 September 1980) Cite this as: Br Med J 1980;281:847
  1. A Norberg,
  2. B Norberg,
  3. G Bexell


    Aged patients with dementia if not stricken by an acute disease sooner or later approach a terminal phase that is distinguished by a failure of spoon feeding. This condition induces great anxiety in the workers who care for these patients. The interaction between patient and care-worker during spoon-feeding failure is described by the psychological model of double-binding. Two serious consequences of double-binding are the distancing of the care-workers from the patient and scapegoating among the care-workers. It is essential that the pressure of double-bindings in the wards should be reduced.