Kate P

Registered User
Jul 6, 2007
Strange thing happened yesterday.

As you know mum has FTD and this has long effected her ability to project the right emotion - for example when a friend told her she was upset that her sister had a stroke mum said "Oooh" ina really happy, excited way. Have to say haven't seen said friend since but you'd think she'd have more sense than to be offended.

Anyway, over the last six to eight months, as a general rule we have nothing other than anger and upset.

Yesterday I had called at my dad's but I had a very upseting morning (not dementia related!) and couldn't hide it - for the first time in years I bawled my eyes out while dad cuddled me.

However, when we looked up mum was staring at me as though she couldn't understand what I was doing, as though she just had no idea what I was doing or why.

I just found it strange that she couldn't understand this particular emotion as she herself cries for hours on end somtimes so I thought she would still recognise it.


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I received some leaflets from the Admiral nurses today .

In it it says about Laughing and crying they may cry uncontrollably .

It does go on about its associated with hallucinations or delusions , if you think that this is not the case consult the GP .

It does say that it may be due to the effects of the brain damage .It does not necessarily mean that the person is very sad or very happy . THey may prefer you to ignore theirs episodes . On the other hand they may respond to reassurance .

I know that it may be of know help for you me saying the above , but I thought if you new that this behavior is normal , because of the effects of the brain damage in your mother brain , your understand as you did say

I just found it strange that she couldn't understand this particular emotion as she herself cries for hours on end sometimes so I thought she would still recognise it
I do feel for you seeing this happing with your mother , I hope that you found confront in your father arms xxx
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Registered User
Mar 7, 2004
Dear Kate, during the years of looking after Lionel at home, this most compassionate, caring man would look at me in bewilderment sometimes if I cried.

He would have no idea why I wa crying, and indeed 'seemed' not to care. Just another facet of the illness, which manifests itself at no particular stage.

Sorry for your situation at present with mum. Life is never easy is it. Take care now,

Kate P

Registered User
Jul 6, 2007
Thanks Connie and Maggie,

Maggie, what you have said makes a lot of sense. Mum suddenly cries and it goes on for hours and nothing has happened and we're mystified as to what's going on.

She doesn't respond well to comforting at all.

I wonder if this is the answer - that she isn't upset it's just reaction to the decline of her brain. After all she does have FTD which as I understand it, primarily attacks the part of the brain that deal with emotions.

Good thinking Maggie - I shall do some investigation.


Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
Birmingham Hades
This is a common symptom of the illness.
I could never understand why Peg didn't seem to care if I was in any sort of discomfort,no kind words or sympathy.
This from a loving ,caring women.
But I did realise eventually as we progressed along that long road that it was not Peg but the illness.
It still hurts though doesn't it?


Registered User
Feb 17, 2006
I know this is the most wonderful site I have ever found in helping me understand what is happening to my mother , but Kate talking to someone hearing they voice telling me , was a great help also from the admiral nurses

I shall do some investigation
Is FTD Fronto - temporal lobe dementia ? .

as I just look at another section on Fronto - temporal lobe dementia for you .

This type of dementia is cause by damage to the frontal and/or temporal lobes of the brain. the area responsible for our behavior , our emotion responses and our language skills

During the early stages the memory may be unaffected . however , there may be other changes For example the person may seem more selfish and unfeeling . They may behave rudely , or may seem more easily distracted . other symptoms may include loss of inhibition ritualised behavior and a liking for sweet food .

It end with for more information see the Alzheimer's Society's information sheet What is Fronto - temprol dementa ( including pick's disease )


Registered User
May 14, 2007
South East London/Surrey border
Kate, I do sympathise with you. My husband has FTD and behaves in exactly the same way. No emotion, no empathy, no understanding of anyone else's feelings. I have been upset in front of him on numerous occasions and he takes no notice and doesn't respond at all.

I know it is the dementia which has caused these catastrophic changes to his personality, but it's very, very hard sometimes not to think he is deliberately being cold hearted and calculating.

I hope you and your Dad can comfort each other.



Registered User
Aug 9, 2005
Many years ago when working in a home for children with severe disanbilities, we had a little boy called Adam who would often laugh uncontrollably and wildly for no apparent reason. My colleague would say: "Adam is laughing at his memories!" We knew this wasn't really the case (Adam was under two!) but we could find no "reasonable" explanation. Similarly, some children would cry for hours, causing us (carers) immense distress as we tried desperately and without success to discover the causes and alleviate their pain or discomfort.

I grew to realise that these expressions were not like those of "normal" people, and did not necessarily reflect suffering (crying) or happiness / amusement (laughter). They were simply an outpouring from a damaged mind.

So I think that, in some cases, this must be true for people with dementia. Not everyone, of course.
The mind is certainly a strange landscape and truly a "foreign country" for us all.

Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
Thought provoking

Thanks Kate for sharing this .... not something I had really considered about my mother ..... but now .....

For mum who was always 'overly-emotional', very anxious ..... there seems to be no concept of anyone else's feelings or suffering ...... only hers ..... Of course, I've just put that down to the disease ...

Perhaps it's a blessing for her? .... some kind of self-preservation kicks in that means they focus on their own battles and know their limitations that they can't take others' on board?

Not easy for us, but a small crumb of comfort perhaps that they might somehow still be able to know to look after themselves?:confused:

Love, Karen, x


Registered User
Aug 9, 2007
Hi Kate

I am so glad that your father was there to comfort you when you were feeling down.

I can remember still my shock at the first time I felt this from my Mum. We were on holiday and I rang home to be told by my hubbie that we had been called to the Fertility clinic for an appointment to start IVF. This was 18 months sooner than we though it was going to happen.

I burst into tears when I came off the phone with such a welter of emotions. All my Mum did was say "pull yourself together..we have to go for dinner" and that was that.

SHe had completely lost her empathy, and it was so so hard. It is the disease and makes the emotions so difficult to deal with. One of the ladies in Mum's homes can turn turn from laughter to sobbing at the drop of a hat. For her the best thing is to leave her in peace and let her calm by herself. Her brain has suffered bad stroke damage that causes this and severe emotional changes can occur which mean nothing in discomfort terms.

I'm so glad your Dad was there for you and hope that you are feeling better now.