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Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer's
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Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer's

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  317 Ratings  ·  61 Reviews
"We are foolish, those of us who think we can escape the traps of aging," writes Tom DeBaggio. "I was one of them, dreaming of a perfect and healthy old age....Now, at fifty-eight, I realize the foolishness of my dreams as I watch my brain self-destruct from Alzheimer's." Losing My Mind is DeBaggio's extraordinary account of his early onset Alzheimer's, a disease that "sil ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 4th 2003 by Free Press (first published March 1st 2002)
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Petra Eggs
I was just getting in to audio books the first time I 'read' this. Listening to an audio book compared to reading print seems to me the difference between having a pizza base, a selection of toppings, plus cheese, sauce and herbs, and you put it together how you want and then bake it and eat it. All the components were given to you and there is a certain set order to placing them, but still two people wouldn't turn out with quite the same pizza. An audio book is like being handed a ready-made sl ...more
Aug 20, 2014 rated it liked it
For the upper-middle and higher classes of modern wealthy countries where war and poverty and hunger are only seen on TV happening to others, and the sick and the elderly are pushed out of sight, and a long healthy life is considered a birthright, the reaction to death or the news of a terminal illness is not just fear and sadness; it’s also anger, bewilderment, self-pity, and a feeling that one has been wronged. There’s a fantasy and illusion that death itself is almost a lifestyle choice. All ...more
Mar 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I got this book a couple years ago after learning my mom had Alzheimer's and seeing an interview with DeBaggio's wife on the Today show. I read a little into it and was soooo confused that I put it down and didn't pick it up again until this summer. My mom's Alzheimer's has progressed into Stage 5/6 and I'm learning more about the disease and understanding whats happening to her. I started the book from the beginning again and now completely understand DeBaggio's frame of mind!!! The confusion o ...more
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is now the fourth book in a row I’ve read about Alzheimer’s and the first by an actual sufferer; the novel I read was written from the perspective of a sufferer but the author didn’t have the disease and so it was a more polished and structured book than this although not a bad book and clearly well-researched. This book is the real deal and a much harder read. It’s not a hard read in the sense of it being an upsetting book; it focuses on his experiences whilst in the early stages of the di ...more
Tee Minn
Jun 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a tough book to read initially because the author has Alzheimer's and the flow is from his perspective. After I got a sense of his confusion, I appreciated his struggle more and the pain is then stronger. What passion he had to explain his loss. He repeats how sad he is that his wife is now saddled with his loss, and you know how that is heavy on his mind. It is interesting to see how the long term memories fade slowly, but visual and language skills -the short term memories - are the b ...more
Jul 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
Thomas DeBaggio's Losing My Mind is written by a man with Alzheimer's. It's a fascinating, devastating book.

I listened online to a few of his NPR interviews as well. He wants to take the taboo out of the disease. He wants people with the disease to state out loud that they have it and to tell people what it's like. He thinks this will help propel a cure.

Amazingly enough, he wrote a second book after this one, which I have on order. I learned that now, however, he no longer reads or writes. He
Terry Perrel
Jul 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
A memoir that starts with the testing of a 57-year-old man's for Early Onset Alzheimer's and how the diagnosis changes his thinking/perceptions and the lives of those he loves the most. Also, distinguishes between normal aging of the brain versus disease and considers genetics/undiagnosed ancestors in the role of early onset.
The book is a combination of research abstracts, memoir, brief passages of stream of consciousness, and reflection.
Ten years after the diagnosis, the author, who often appea
Kate Gutes
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great use of structure to try and emulate how a mind falling apart would look.
Feb 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mental-illness
Disjoined, like the disease. Well crafted. Tragic. Compelling.
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
You must be able to appreciate, or at least tolerate, slightly tangential prose influenced by associative thinking to get through this. But hey, associative thinking and making new connections between seemingly disparate things is the hallmark of creativity (the latest buzz in pop-psych as if it hasn’t been appreciated for centuries…) but anyway, not to mimic DeBaggio’s digressive writing… as mentioned elsewhere, it encompasses three pieces: his memories of his childhood and young adult life, hi ...more
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Given the subject, I can't really claim that I "really liked" this book, but I found it insightful and sadly instructive. Don't read it if you find yourself prone to depression though. I was grateful for the writer's brutal honesty about this truly hellish disease, an affliction that will always ultimately be impervious to hope or "thinking positive." Yet writing this book helped him come to terms in exactly the way a writer always processes life, by writing it all down, and he does that with gr ...more
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book, written in the first-person by a 57 year-old man diagnosed with “early stage Alzheimer’s dementia,” was a fascinating, terrifying and sad read. DeBaggio, once a freelance journalist, is an excellent and poetic writer; he writes in an almost sporadic style, flashing between descriptions his present situation, his feelings, clinical information and statistics about Alzheimer’s and memories from his past. These rapid movements between each of these categories really help the reader to ge ...more
Sharon Fawcett
Jul 27, 2015 rated it liked it
I thought this was a valuable book and I am grateful Thomas DeBaggio dedicated so many months to writing it, in order to give readers rare insight into the thoughts of someone newly diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I was saddened, however, at the number of times DeBaggio referred to the disease in ways that depicted it a beast slowly eating him alive. I don't think he saw it as anything other than that.

Another reviewer stated she felt DeBaggio might have benefitted from counselling in those e
Sep 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book and even cried a few times. I have seen several people suffer from Alzheimer's disease but this book was written from a point of view that I cannot fully understand and one I hope I never will have to.

There was a few sections of the book were the paragraphs were almost exact copies such as on pages 48 and 138. I do not know if this is intentional as a reflection of what AD can do to a person or if Mr. DeBaggio really just had the exact same thought twice while writing
Apr 09, 2011 rated it it was ok
The beginning indicated a really good read -- a compilation of memories, medical theory, and personal realizations. Then I got bogged down in the memories, so I started to read only the day-to-day fearful thoughts and science (but it's from 1999). I wanted to know how it feels to be losing your mind, and I found out. It's depressing. What I did learn is that there is some connection between Alzheimer's and the ApoE gene, so I looked that up, and the 4 variants are good and bad. Hm. Maybe I shoul ...more
Jul 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's not the most stylishly or beautifully written book; but its Alzheimer's focus, honesty, and methodical pace add up to a very good book. This memoir came out in 2002. After I finished it, I had to search the internet for "what happened to Thomas DeBaggio". It was sad to see he had died of his disease at age 69, just 9 years after finishing the book. So many times reading the book I had found myself hoping that somehow there had been a mistake in his early onset diagnosis, for though he goes ...more
Aug 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
DeBaggio describes, as best he can, what Alzheimer's is like from the inside. He creates an interesting structure, interweaving four kinds of writing: 1. descriptions of his current life with Alzheimer's, 2. memories of his life; 3. extracts from research on Alzheimer's 4. single sentence attempts to express the heart of what he is losing.

The combination makes a delicate balance possible--a continuous description of his struggle with Alzheimer's would be unbearable. The research documents, while
Feb 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating memoir written by a man afflicted with Alzheimer's and discussing how he manages to live. While I would have thought that the fear of memory loss would predominate, in DeBaggio's case he ruminates repeatedly over the prospect of his death knowing that the prognosis after diagnosis is a matter of a few years. I read this as an accompaniment to Still Alice, an excellent fictional account of a woman going through the same process, and the two worked perfectly together.
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have read a lot of books in my life and let me just say, this is probably one of the most painful and honest books I have ever read. It is raw and real. I felt everything so deeply. If anyone wants a look into Alzheimer's Disease, this is the book to read. But I will add this warning, this is one of the most painful books I have ever read. There were points that I had to put the book down because I just needed a break. This is not a light read. It is a raw and real account of one of the heavie ...more
Shannon Smith
Oct 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This man has a way with words. One of the most well written books I have ever read. He is a poet, just beautiful. My heart thoroughly ached through this book. His insight on what happens to a person with Alzheimer is amazing, like your actually in his head. I felt like I knew him to the point that I looked up online if he had passed away. When I learned that he did ,almost 2 years ago now, I was surprised at myself to feel a genuine loss and sadness like I had lost a friend. A wonderful, sad, en ...more
Feb 15, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a facinating book, especially when one realizes it was written by the person who was losing his mind. I am very drawn to books about neurological disorders and this one makes the first hand experience very understanable.

This first-person account of Alzheimer's ties several powerful stories together. Losing My Mind blends personal history with the fear and pain of developing the disease at the age of 57; it is both a sadly fascinating account of Alzheimer's progression and an attempt for

Thomas DeBaggio, an author and herb farmer, was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers and chronicles his own demise in LOSING MY MIND. When he is informed by his neurologist that he has early onset Alzheimers, DeBaggio vows to maintain a diary as long as he is able.It started with little things--like not being able to find the keys. It then progressed to not being able to recall his phone number and address. And, then, not being able to find his way home. His memory jumped between his childhood
Dec 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Very Depressing and sad, but it is, also, a good thing to read to understand what someone may feel if they are diagnosed with Alzheimer's. I felt like I was right there with him. It makes you appreciate your loved ones, and it also makes you think I should vacation as much as possible earlier in life. He was just about to retire at 57 when he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's. A good book for people working with the elderly, as well.
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Thomas DeBaggio began this memoir when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's at age 57. He intersperses his observations about the effects of his deterioration with flashbacks to his childhood and excerpts from scientific research on Alzheimer's. This moving book is an admonition to treasure all that our healthy brains allow us to feel, think, remember, accomplish....
It took me awhile to get into the style of this book: alternating sections; some only a single sentence from DeBaggio's journal, reminiscences of his early life and facts about Alzheimer's Disease. There is a great deal of repetition of themes and sometimes even accounts are retold - perhaps intentionally to demonstrate the gaps developing in his memory and decision making.

Karna Converse
Mar 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
A helpful book for families with a member who suffers from Alzheimer's Disease.

DeBaggio expertly weaves three narrative strands into the book--thoughts from his private journal, stories of his life, and research about the disease--for an informative look only one who is afflicted with the disease could put on paper.
May 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting and heartbreaking look into the mind of someone diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer's. As a social worker who works with elderly cognitively impaired people, I did not find the information in this book new, but for someone with little knowledge of dementia, I would highly recommend it.
Mary Kenyon
Jan 22, 2016 rated it it was ok
Couldn't finish this book. While I found his style of descriptive writing very beautiful at times, I had a difficult time jumping back and forth from childhood memories to scientific data and back to the tale at hand. I think my favorite pieces were the short sections that read like a personal journal.
Dec 28, 2013 rated it liked it
In an effort to weave together three threads of the story, this is sometimes a very choppy read. On the other hand, it does provide insight into the mind of one with Alzheimer's. it felt like he must have had some (unacknowledged) editing help because the writing itself did not match his descriptions of loss (spelling, coherence, etc.).
Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This was an amazing book about a writer who makes an account of his descent into Alzheimer's. It's incredibly sad, and still uplifting. What a terrible disease, and to be able to understand it from the point of view of someone going through it, is, I think, an incredible gift. And it must have been incredibly difficult to be becoming aware of losing yourself.
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“Cut my legs off but don't take away my ability to think, dream, and write” 1 likes
“I am more aware of the world now, the tiny insignificant things especially. I am beginning to be more childlike. For an artist this may have some advantages.” 1 likes
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