A committee tries to decide which of its members are demented

Other people’s dreams are usually boring, and even your own dreams are boring–lacking narrative structure and only partially remembered. My dreams, often inspired by red wine, tend to fade fast, but I’ve just remembered something of last night’s dream in which a committee I was chairing had to decide which of its members was demented.

It was a chaotic committee of about 15 people. We weren’t seated around a table but were a disorganised group; although chairing I had to look over the shoulders of some members. I think that we had an expert describing to us how we could recognise dementia. I tried to ensure then that every member of the committee had a chance to speak. The implication was that some of the committee were demented, and I–and maybe the whole committee–hoped that these people would recognise their dementia and step down. That didn’t happen. I felt the need to sum up, and lamely I said “We will all reflect on what we have learnt today and draw our own conclusions.”

One scene I remember clearly was a female member of the committee saying “You chaired that very well.” In my dream, I thought that I didn’t chair it at all well, and I wondered what she might want from me.

I can see easily where this dream comes from. I chair two boards and a collection of continuing workshops, and I’ve chaired many groups and meetings in the past. All groups are dysfunctional to some degree–with people not understanding each other, not saying what they really think, pursuing their own hidden agendas, paying off scores, buttering up others, and even trying to undermine the work of the committee–but some that I’ve chaired have reached high levels of dysfunction.

And dementia is in my mind much of the time not only because of my mother and the rising prevalence of dementia but also because I’m constantly searching for signs of it in myself–and detecting them.

I’ve chaired some committees where some people did seem demented, or at least wholly lacking in insight, and I can imagine a committee trying to find a way to remove kindly demented members. I hope that when it happens I manage it better than in my dream.



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