Saturday, September 11, 2004

A Rather Mini Mental Status Exam

Jeff Goldstein of Protein Wisdom conducts an interview with Dan Rather's Ego. He asks the mental health world, "Is it true that a diminished grasp of the temporal is a tell-tale sign of mental illness?" I am happy to oblige him and answer:

A grasp of the temporal is extremely important in evaluating the mental status of an individual. It is called “Orientation” and it reflects an assessment of whether the person: 1) knows who he is; 2) knows where he is; and 3) knows the date/time (e.g., PERSON, PLACE, and TIME). When the disorientation is “acute” (relatively recent onset) the diagnosis is DELERIUM; When the condition is chronic (lasting for a long time) it is called DEMENTIA. I

In evaluating Dan Rather:
PERSON - he thinks he is God and doesn’t have to answer to anyone (it is possible this is just delusional, but delusional people aren’t necessarily oriented either)
PLACE - we can’t be sure what planet he is actually from, and he doesn’t appear certain either. TIME/DATE - as Jeff points out, Mr. Rather is unable to tell the difference between Pacific Time and Central Time.

Since his condition has been chronic and seem to have been going on for years, the most likely diagnosis is DEMENTIA. Possibly more tests will be needed to distinguish that diagnosis from a delusional psychosis.

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