Losing My Mind

An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer's

Losing My Mind

"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 "silently hollows the brain" and slowly "gobbles memory and destroys life." But with DeBaggio's curse came an unexpected blessing: the ability to chart the mechanics and musings of his failing mind.
Whether describing the happy days of his youth or lamenting over the burden his disease has placed upon his loved ones, DeBaggio manages to inspire the reader with his ability to function, to think, and ultimately to survive. By turns an autobiography, a medical history, and a book of meditations, Losing My Mind is a testament to the splendor of memory and a triumphant celebration of the human spirit.
  • Free Press | 
  • 224 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743205665 | 
  • March 2003
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Reading Group Guide

Thomas DeBaggio, Losing My Mind
In Losing My Mind: An Intimate Look at Life with Alzheimer's, Thomas DeBaggio records in heartbreaking detail an experience that few have recounted and no one hopes to share: the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Diagnosed one beautiful spring day at the age of 57, longtime journalist DeBaggio initially viewed the condition as a death sentence, but also knew he had a story he ought to tell. While keeping up with his family-run herb and plant business, he began work on his new project immediately, writing in his journal to capture the personal angle and researching the latest scientific information on a still poorly understood disease. This book is the devastating result.
Discussion Questions
1. As he says in the Author's Note, DeBaggio weaves three distinct threads into this narrative. One records his memories from early childhood onward, another relates the present-day frustrations of the disease, and the last collects bits and pieces of the latest Alzheimer's research. Rather than treating these subjects in three separate sections, he alternates between them rapidly, creating a complex texture. What is the effect of this technique? Did you notice any interesting juxtapositions?
2. One of the most poignant aspects of the book is the use of short italicized quotations from DeBaggio's journal -- dispatches from his most personal thoughts. One reads simply, "Th see more

More Books from this Author

Adeptly navigating between elegy and celebration, fear and determination, confusion and clarity, DeBaggio delivers an exquisitely moving and inspiring book that will resonate with all those who have grappled with their own or their loved ones' memory loss and with death.

With his first memoir, Losing My Mind, Thomas DeBaggio stunned readers by laying bare his faltering mind in a haunting and beautiful meditation on the centrality of memory to human life, and on his loss of it to...

About the Author

Thomas DeBaggio

Thomas DeBaggio (1942-2011) was an American author, herb grower, and advocate for research into Alzheimer's disease. DeBaggio was once called the best “Rosemaryologist in America” and his company, DeBaggio Herbs, was one of the most respected herb farms and nurseries in the Washington, DC, area. His book Growing Herbs from Seed, Cutting, and Root was the 1995 recipient of the Benjamin Franklin Award for best garden book of 1995 for excellence in editorial content and design.