A Certain Kind of Stubbornness Living With Very Old Age
Henri Danon-Boileau is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst. He was formerly chief resident of the Paris Medical Faculty and chief physician of the medical-psychological university clinic of Sceaux. He is an honorary member of the Psychoanalytic Society of Paris.
“When confronting the enemy, adapt to changing circumstances and invent expedients,” advised the strategist Sun Tzu. That is the position that Henri Danon-Boileau urges us to take when facing the challenges of old age, particularly after 80, when he says, in an obvious understatement, that it becomes necessary to make “certain adjustments”. He examines here how very old age weighs down on every aspect of daily life; he offers a thorough examination of current developments and their repercussions; he analyses how old age transforms an individual’s identity, and the negative reactions that such a transformation can provoke (from denial to the loss of all desire).
Written with the distancing perspective of age, this work is the product of the author’s extensive clinical experience as well as of his personal work on himself. It is also a powerful paean to life. Henri Danon-Boileau argues that it is essential for elderly people “to maintain, every day, on all occasions, and in every area of life, from the most banal to the most demanding, the freedom of manoeuvre that they still possess, in order to continue using their physical and intellectual faculties and to keep up their curiosity, their interest in — and their love for — others and the outside world.”
Is very old age a time of withdrawal? Perhaps. Of renunciation? Probably not.
• A reflection on the profound changes imposed by old age; an analysis of the dead ends it can lead to and what to do to keep on loving life and others.
• This unique work, the product of an eminent psychoanalyst’s long professional experience, enriched with a wealth of personal touches, is a true “art of ageing”.