Emergence of PTSD in Trauma Survivors With Dementia

Case study of a Titanic survivor

Journal of Clinical Psychiatry

   Hide Ads

Ms. A, a widowed white woman, was admitted to a nursing home when she was 95 years old because of progressive deterioration of cognitive functions, including memory loss, apraxia, and agnosia consistent with Alzheimer's disease (DSM-IV criteria). She no longer recognized family members, including her daughter. Workup of causes of reversible dementia was negative. Her use of language remained relatively intact.

Ms. A was 22 years old when she survived the sinking of the Titanic. Throughout her life, when asked about the event, she would ignore the question and move on to another topic. Her family could not recall significant reexperiencing or autonomic hyperactivity.

In the nursing home, Ms. A began to have periods of extreme psychomotor agitation, accompanied by vivid reexperiencing of her earlier trauma. For example, when placed in the day room with other residents, she would become markedly distressed, calling out, "The water is coming up! Go to the lifeboats! Save the children! We'll all be dead!"

Journal of Clinical Psychiatry 62:3, March 2001

Editor's note: The only genuine female Titanic survivor of the correct age (22) with daughters, was Alice Cleaver.  She remains the strongest candidate if one expands the age from 21-23. 

Share on FaceBook Twitter

Related Biographies:

Alice Catherine Cleaver


Madeleine Herne


Encyclopedia Titanica (2018) Emergence of PTSD in Trauma Survivors With Dementia (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, , ref: #20272, published 9 August 2018, generated 31st July 2021 10:55:34 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/ptsd-titanic-survivor-dementia.html