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(dĭmĕn`shə) [Lat.,=being out of the mind], progressive deterioration of intellectual faculties resulting in apathy, confusion, and stupor. In the 17th cent. the term was synonymous with insanityinsanity,
mental disorder of such severity as to render its victim incapable of managing his affairs or of conforming to social standards. Today, the term insanity is used chiefly in criminal law, to denote mental aberrations or defects that may relieve a person from the legal
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, and the term dementia praecox was used in the 19th cent. to describe the condition now known as schizophreniaschizophrenia
, group of severe mental disorders characterized by reality distortions resulting in unusual thought patterns and behaviors. Because there is often little or no logical relationship between the thoughts and feelings of a person with schizophrenia, the disorder has
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. In recent years, the term has generally been used to describe various conditions of mental deterioration occurring in middle to later life. Dementia, in its contemporary usage, is an irreversible condition, and is not applied to states of mental deterioration that may be overcome, such as delirium. The condition is generally caused by deterioration of brain tissue, though it can occassionally be traced to deterioration of the circulatory system. Major characteristics include short- and long-term memory loss, impaired judgement, slovenly appearance, and poor hygiene. Dementia disrupts personal relationships and the ability to function occupationally. Senility (senile dementia) in old age is the most commonly recognized form of dementia, usually occurring after the age of 65. Alzheimer's disease can begin at a younger age, and deterioration of the brain tissue tends to happen much more quickly. Frontotemporal dementia, resulting from the atrophy of the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, is the most common form of dementia, however, in persons under the age of 60. It was formerly known as Pick's disease; that term is now reserved for a specific subtype of frontotemporal dementia. Individuals who have experienced cerebrovascular disease (particularly strokes) may develop similar brain tissue deterioration, with symptoms similar to various forms of dementia. Other diseases that cause dementia include Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. Some forms of familial Alzheimer's disease are caused by specific dominant gene mutations.


See L. L. Heston and J. White, The Vanishing Mind (1991).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



irreversible deterioration of mental activity, manifested mainly by a decreased ability to acquire knowledge, loss of previously acquired knowledge, emotional apathy, and behavioral changes.

Dementia may be congenital (oligophrenia) or acquired. The concept of dementia usually refers to acquired dementia, that is, dementia resulting from mental disease. Clinically, dementia may be total or partial. Total dementia is characterized by an impairment of the ability to make judgments and arrive at conclusions, a sharply decreased critical attitude toward one’s condition, a loss of individual personality features, and a predominance of a complacent attitude (as in the case of senile psychosis). The main symptom of partial (dysmnestic) dementia is a disturbance of memory accompanied by emotional instability, helplessness, and a weakening of mental activity (as in the case of vascular disease of the brain). In partial dementia, however, consciousness of one’s own incompetence is retained, and the personality does not lose its individuality to the degree that it does with total dementia. The irreversibility of dementia is to some extent conditional, as is demonstrated by the results of treatment for patients with Bayle’s disease. In addition, there is a special form of acute transitory dementia associated with certain febrile, toxic, and other psychoses. The characteristics of dementia depend on the disease that produces the mental deterioriation; among the diseases are epilepsy, schizophrenia, and alcoholism.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Deterioration of intellectual and other mental processes due to organic brain disease.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


a state of serious emotional and mental deterioration, of organic or functional origin
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Retrograde amnesia in dementia: comparison of HIV-associated dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and Huntington's disease.
Cytokines in the brain during viral infection: clues to HIV-associated dementia. J Clin Invest 1997; 100 : 2948-51.
In HIV-positive patients with evidence of cognitive impairment, neuropsychological testing can help determine if the pattern of deficits is consistent with HIV-associated dementia. Such deficits typically follow the pattern of a subcortical dementia characterized by apathy, amotivation, psychomotor retardation, and slowing of general information processing.
Significantly increased levels of lactate and lipid biomarkers were noted in all HIV patients, those who tested normally on neuropsychological tests as well those with mild neurocognitive disorder and HIV-associated dementia, compared with controls.
Lipton, "Pathways to neuronal injury and apoptosis in HIV-associated dementia," Nature, vol.
Risk of central nervous system (CNS) infection, peripheral neuropathy (PN), and HIV-associated dementia (HAD) increase with advanced disease and have increased in prevalence because of an increased life expectancy.
In CHARTER participants with incidental or contributing conditions, the researchers vised standard NP tests to determine whether they had asymptomatic neurocognitive impairment (impairment that did not interfere significantly with everyday functioning), mild neurocognitive disorder, or HIV-associated dementia.
The most severe manifestation of CNS disease is HIV-associated dementia complex (HADC), a neurological syndrome characterized by disordered mental functions (i.e., cognition), motor functions, and behavior.
Evidences have shown that RANTES and its receptor CCR5 play a role in a wide array of pathological conditions with neurodegenerative diseases such as PD, Alzheimer's disease (AD), multiple sclerosis, stroke, and HIV-associated dementia [7-9].
Infections play a primary role in chronic non-communicable diseases (such as rheumatic heart disease, liver cancer, cervical cancer and HIV-associated dementia) that are endemic in sub-Saharan Africa.
If there are other features and markers of late-stage HIV infection, the need for antiretroviral medication should be considered, as this is an important treatment for HIV-associated dementia (see related article by Singh in this edition).
They analysed 780 HIV sequences from 53 normal and abnormal tissues from seven patients who had died between 1995 and 2003 from various AIDS-related conditions, including HIV-associated dementia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and generalized infections throughout the body.