ISR News & Events

Annual DeBakey Lecture in Medical Humanities and Bioethics with Stephen G. Post

April 18, 2024 @ 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Baylor Sciences Building D110

How do we approach a “deeply forgetful” loved one so as to notice and affirm their continuing self-identity?

For three decades, Stephen G. Post has worked around the world encouraging caregivers to become more aware of—and find renewed hope in—surprising expressions of selfhood despite the challenges of cognitive decline.

In his book Dignity for Deeply Forgetful People (Johns Hopkins University Press, May 31, 2022), Post offers new perspectives on the worth and dignity of people with Alzheimer’s and related disorders despite the negative influence of “hypercognitive” values that place an ethically unacceptable emphasis on human dignity as based on linear rationality and strength of memory. This bias, Post maintains, is responsible for the abusive exclusion of this population from our shared humanity. With vignettes and narratives, he advocates for a deeper dignity grounded in consciousness, emotional presence, creativity, inter-dependence, music, and a self that is not “gone.” Post explores the moments of surprising experience of “paradoxical lucidity” that almost all caregivers experience with their loved one, a lucidity that reveals who they still are underneath the losses. He explores the many ways to stimulate and connect with that continuing self.

At a time when recent drugs to cure or slow Alzheimer’s are showing little effectiveness, Post argues that focusing discussion and resources on the relational dignity of these individuals and the respite needs of their caregivers is vital. Grounding an ethics of care on the equal worth of all conscious human beings, he provides a cautionary perspective on preemptive assisted suicide based on cases that he has witnessed. He covers 16 practical issues from diagnosis to hospice care based on 30 years of interacting with caregivers across the US and Canada. He advocates social and economic justice in an American system where caregivers and their loved ones receive only leftover scraps.

Book Reviews & Testimonials

“Dr. Stephen G. Post brings to this book his tremendous compassion and understanding for the persons he calls ‘deeply forgetful,’ … The great humanity of his approach makes for a deeply rich, resilient, and nurturing community for us all. A must-read!”
—Gayatri Devi, MD, Director, New York Memory & Healthy Aging Services, author of The    Spectrum of Hope: An Optimistic and New Approach to Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias

“Stephen Post writes tenderly, lovingly, and wisely about those among us with failing mental faculties. His message reflects the view that we are conscious in spite of what our brain may be doing, and that it is human consciousness that is fundamental to our dignity, even if our cognitive strengths have weakened… Post thoughtfully probes every imaginable practical ethical question that a caregiver might have based on his three decades of ethics consultation with families. This is a breakthrough book—innovative, humane, inclusive, and uniquely significant—and one book that every caregiver and professional should read.”
—Larry Dossey, MD, Author, One Mind:  How Our Individual Mind Is Part of a Greater Consciousness and Why It Matters

“As a founding member of the Alzheimer Association’s National Ethics Committee, Post helped shape our national ethics guidelines… and was among the first to bring medical ethics to caregivers throughout North America. With story and solid intellectual grounding, this masterpiece is vital reading for the dementia field and far beyond.”
—Mike Splaine, Former Director, State Policy & Chapter Advocacy Program, Alzheimer’s Association, Washington, DC

About the Author

About the Author: Internationally recognized for his work with Alzheimer’s patients, their families and allied organizations. Stephen G. Post, PhD is an elected Member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of Alzheimer’s Disease International and one of only three recipients of the Alzheimer’s Association Distinguished Service Award. His first book, The Moral Challenge of Alzheimer’s Disease (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000) was hailed as a “medical classic of the century” by the British Medical Journal. In 2001 he founded the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love with Sir John Templeton. Post is the founding director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University. A leader in medicine, research and religion, Dr. Post continues to travel the globe speaking about memory issues and the transformative benefits of
kindness, volunteering, spirituality, forgiveness and purpose. Visit him online at