Showing how they feel: the emotional reflexivity of people with dementia

Boyle, Geraldine and Warren, Lorna (2017). Showing how they feel: the emotional reflexivity of people with dementia. Families, Relationships and Societies, 6(1) pp. 3–19.



This article explores whether people with dementia demonstrate emotional reflexivity within their personal relationships. Previous research has suggested that they may lose their capacity for reflection as the disease progresses. In turn, it has also been assumed that they lack the reflexive abilities necessary to exercise agency within their daily lives. The authors draw on findings from a qualitative study of everyday decision-making by people with dementia and their spouses undertaken in England. The sample consisted of 21 couples, but to enable emotional reflexivity to be examined in depth, this article focuses on the emotional communication of six people with more advanced dementia. The research found that even when their abilities for deliberation, discourse and social interaction were limited, they could nonetheless demonstrate emotional reflexivity. As they also exhibited a capacity for imaginative agency, this suggests that intersubjectivity can be preserved in dementia even when social skills are apparently lost.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions