, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 377-387
Date: 22 Jan 2014

Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind? An anthropological-ethical framework for understanding and dealing with sexuality in dementia care

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“Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” is taken from the ‘Eloise to Abelard’ poem written by Alexander Pope in the eighteenth century. The same line was borrowed in 2004 as title for a romantic science fiction film about a couple that (voluntarily) erased each other from their memories when their relationship went wrong. The story told raises questions as to whether (in)voluntary loss of memory pertaining to the realm of broken relationships and former partners is truly liberating or not? This liberating power is exactly what the original poem alludes to. Both the poem and the movie explore the complex relationship between love—the joy and perhaps also the pain it entails—, memory and identity. In doing so it makes you think about the impact dementia or involuntary loss of memory might have on love and relationships.