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The Alzheimer Conundrum


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix Orientations 1 Chapter 1 Making and Remaking Alzheimer Disease 26 Chapter 2 Striving to Standardize Alzheimer Disease 51 Chapter 3 Paths to Alzheimer Prevention 76 Chapter 4 Embodied Risk Made Visible 100 Chapter 5 Alzheimer Genes: Biomarkers of Prediction and Prevention 132 Chapter 6 Genome-Wide Association Studies: Back to the Future 156 Chapter 7 Living with Embodied Omens 174 Chapter 8 Chance Untamed and the Return of Fate 207 Chapter 9 Transcending Entrenched Tensions 229 Afterword: Portraits from the Mind 243 Notes 247 Bibliography 277 Index 301

About the Author

Margaret Lock is the Marjorie Bronfman Professor Emerita in the Department of Social Studies of Medicine and the Department of Anthropology at McGill University.


Shortlisted for the 2014 Mavis Gallant Prize for Non-Fiction, Quebec Writers' Federation "[T]houghtful ... convincing... Margaret Lock is an extremely sharp critic of the Alzheimer's scene."--W. F. Bynum, Times Literary Supplement "[A] diligent survey of research, literature, conferences, and interviews... Lock proves that the science of the disease is just as compelling as poignant accounts from caregivers and those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Lock highlights just how much we don't know, from problems with Alzheimer's pathology, testing, and diagnosis to the search for a drug treatment... While science plugs away at solving the Alzheimer's conundrum, Lock's call for improved care and social support takes on a new urgency."--Publishers Weekly "[Lock] delivers key concepts in epidemiology, neuroscience and genetics in a way that is both scholarly and free of unnecessary technical details. Lock's bird's-eye view and mix of diverging sources of information is refreshing... For its wide scope and balanced critical evaluation, The Alzheimer Conundrum is an inspiring read for everyone working in the field."--Eus Van Someren, Nature "Comprehensive, cogent, and densely detailed, The Alzheimer Conundrum provides a useful antidote to media hype about 'silver bullets' that are 'just around the corner' and makes an important contribution to our understanding of an achingly tragic disease that touches virtually all of us."--Glenn Altschuler, Psychology Today "The Alzheimer Conundrum: Entanglements of Dementia and Aging is a welcome addition to a body of work that has so productively explored the historical contingencies, cultural specificities, and philosophical dilemmas that surround and shape bodies and people's understandings and inhabitances of them."--Aaron Seaman, Somatosphere "The Alzheimer Conundrum is a gem for young scientists and medical students, and it will challenge them to step back from traditional models, standardised diagnostic procedures and disease specificity to adopt a broader philosophical approach: when is a disease not a disease? ... Lock's rigorous unpacking of research studies and refusal to accept statements and conclusions from research papers at face value result in a thorough and honest appraisal of the current state of the field. It will be a great help in understanding the confusion and conflicting evidence surrounding this highly important topic."--Rose Anne Kenny, Times Higher Education "Lock's empirical account is a very welcome addition to the literature on biomedical uncertainty."--Des Fitzgerald, LSE Review of Books "[W]hether medical researchers or the general reader, this is a meaningful reading."--Liu, Economic Observer (China) "The Alzheimer Conundrum is an engaging read that, while quite granular in its detail, is never dry... Lock clearly summarizes, synthesizes, and critiques the results from research in molecular biology, genetics, neuroimaging, and epidemiology."--Jason Karlawish, Health Affairs "The Alzheimer Conundrum is an eloquently reasoned, provocative work."--Choice "The strength of this book is the in-depth detailing of the limitations of the existing science of Alzheimer's... This book is particularly relevant for researchers in the field of dementia: for those coming from a bio-medical perspective it may help them to be more reflexive about the choices they make in their studies, and for social scientists it may help to further understandings of and potential links with more medically focused research."--Jane Tooke, Journal of Ageing & Society "Lock's book is balanced, brilliant, and inspirational... The sheer travel, research, and organization that went into its creation are beyond impressive. Its lasting contribution is to leave the thoughtful reader in the AD field pondering the notion of a conundrum--after all, riddles abound in many aspects of our lives, always pointing to uncertainty."--Daniel R. George and Peter J. Whitehouse, Culture, Medicine, & Psychiatry "The Alzheimer Conundrum is a provocative account of why Alzheimer's disease (AD) is such a puzzling mix of scientific hypotheses, research agendas, pharmaceutical interests, funding objectives, and theories of aging... A timely critique of the disease model and its cultural consequences. The book's appeal is that it takes readers beyond scientific fields to consider social, historical, and cross-cultural dimensions of AD that broaden conceptual debates about mind and body, nature and nurture, and normal and pathological."--Stephen Katz, Bulletin of the History of Medicine

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