Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Schooling about senility

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 27 April 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d2129
  1. Lawrence C Kaplan, consultant in neurodisabilities and professor of paediatrics, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, London
  1. larry_kaplan1{at}

How can we better empathise with patients with dementia? Lawrence C Kaplan was inspired by the educational value in this theatrical performance

When I was a medical student in the 1980s the most enduring advice I received was to never be afraid to imagine what it must feel like to actually have my patients’ illnesses—not to sympathise but to empathise. Gaining that insight can be difficult, however, because it often requires the student to discover new things alone, without the teacher helping to separate illness from its context.

An Evening With Dementia, the award winning new play currently on tour throughout the UK, can teach clinicians and non-clinicians alike about dementia in ways that I have rarely seen achieved in the classroom or in the clinical setting, let alone the theatre. More than a play, it is a powerful lesson. It enlightens, inspires, and, most importantly, teaches what people with advanced dementia …

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