Alzheimer's group hails `bravery' of Reagan
No world celebrity of his stature has before publicly owned up to a dreadful disease that will inevitably cause the degeneration of his brain cells and loss of personality.
Almost certainly it would not have happened in Britain, where any form of mental disorder, curable or incurable, is still stigmatised, hidden and counted a matter of shame.
Here even physical illness in national leaders is viewed as personal weakness. Rumours abound that Lord Wilson of Rievaulx, who has taken little part in public life for years and none in the past nine months, has Alzheimer's. These are denied. An associate said last night that he was not well, but that his condition went back some 12 years. Lord Wilson's family was adamant that he did not suffer from Alzheimer's, he said.
Only passing mention of Alzheimer's disease is made in the obituary columns. The former footballer Danny Blanchflower died as a result of it nearly a year ago. Alex Lyon, the Labour MP for York between 1966 and 1983 who died in October last year, was also a sufferer. There would appear to be a consensus that the British public has little appetite for such intimacies. In America, all is different. The treatment for alcoholism of Betty Ford, wife of the former President, Gerald, became a matter of public congratulation.
Harry Cayton, director of the Alzheimer's Disease Society in Britain, described Mr Reagan's announcement as brave and welcome. His organisation seeks to destigmatise Alzheimer's and has been looking for a well-known sufferer who might be prepared to carry its banner.
He said: ``The disease has quite a different profile in the US. The reason for this is probably the very powerful lobby of older people and the pressure they are able to put on. It has resulted in a very high level of research being undertaken.
``There has never been such a stigma over mental diseases. Americans are much happier to talk about their psychological problems, their therapy, their marital break-ups. Here we are extremely reticent.''
Reagan's letter, page 13
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
- 1 World Cup 2014: 20 things we learned in Brazil
- 2 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 3 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 4 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 World Cup 2014: Robin van Persie gives his bronze medal to eccentric Netherlands fan moments after being handed it by Sepp Blatter
Game of Thrones author George RR Martin says 'f*** you' to fans who fear he will die before finishing Westeros saga
Ian Thorpe gay: Olympic swimmer comes out in Parkinson interview
Pamplona bull run: Man who contributed to a survival guide for the festival falls foul of the raging beasts
Israel-Gaza conflict: William Hague calls for ceasefire but says Israel 'has the right to defend itself'
Supermoon 2014: When and why will the moon look bigger and brighter this summer?
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’
£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...
£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...
£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...