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Introduction

Dementia is currently defined as ‘a syndrome consisting of progressive impairment in both memory and at least one of the following cognitive deficits: aphasia, apraxia, agnosia or disturbance in executive abilities, sufficient to interfere with social or occupational functioning, in the absence of delirium or major non-organic psychiatric disorders’ (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). This narrow definition is a remnant of the ‘cognitive paradigm’ of dementia (Berrios, 1989). According to the latter view (developed during the late 19th century), cognitive deficits are the only pathognomonic features of dementia and psychiatric and behavioural symptoms are just coincidental encumbrances. Due to the work of Ebbinghaus, memory became the first measurable cognitive deficit and this introduced a lasting bias in that ever since memory impairment has tended to ...

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