Diogenes syndrome : a symptom of dementia or loneliness?

hoarding_eleoscounsellingA  recent article in the Daily Express spoke of a lady who had lived for three decades in a battered car, in a South London residential street. The lady in question Anne  Naysmith, recently died after being hit by a car, close to her home. It transpired that Anne Naysmith had been a talented concert pianist who had been suffering from Diogenes syndrome. This is mental illness, named after the Greek philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, who cast off material things in favour of  living  in a large jar in Athens.

A person with Diogenes syndrome has many idiosyncratic characteristics, one of which can be hoarding. As with Anne Naysmith, Diogenes syndrome is often associated with extreme self-neglect, causing the person to become socially withdrawn, furthermore, sufferers of Diogenes Syndrome, will also have a compulsion to hoard rubbish, which can add to the social isolation.

It is thought that long periods of social isolation, which causes lack of cognitive stimulation, or a genetic precondition may be the cause of this syndrome. An additional factor which is also thought to cause the syndrome is a traumatic life event. In the case of Anne Naysmith, it was thought that the breakup of her relationship with a handsome choral singer induced some of the behaviours which she had to her death.

For the family members of someone suffering with Diogenes syndrome, it can be difficult seeing someone living in extreme squalor. Furthermore, for those who are left to sort through years of squalid living.

With the biggest charity in Britain today announcing three centres of medical research, one in, Oxford, one in Cambridge and one at Kings College London. These three centres will be dedicated in trying to find a medical solution for dementia.  It is well known that Early-onset dementia will become more prevalent , in Great Britain as the  population becomes older.

Increasingly, people are becoming more and lonelier and social stimulation, is something that people crave for.  One can only wonder whether , if Anne  Naysmith had received the right amount of support, in the form of psychotherapy, after the break of the relationship, whether the outcome for her would of been different.

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