Change in the psychological self in people living with dementia: A scoping review

Aikaterini Mentzou (Lead / Corresponding author), Judith Sixsmith, Maggie P. Ellis, Josephine Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Alterations in one's sense of self are often considered a significant psychological symptom of dementia. However, the self is not a unified construct; it consists of a set of closely connected, yet substantive, manifestations which might not be equally impacted by dementia. Recognising the multidimensional nature of the self, the current scoping review aimed to explore the nature and scope of the evidence demonstrating change in the psychological self in people living with dementia. Adopting a cognitive psychological framework, a hundred and five (105) quantitative and qualitative studies were reviewed, and findings were organised into three main types of self-manifestations: high-order manifestations, functional aspects of the self, and foundational manifestations. Overall, the results show that although there are alterations in some of these different manifestations of the self, these do not imply a global loss of selfhood. Despite notable cognitive changes during dementia, it seems that preserved aspects of self may be enough to compensate for potential weakening of some self-processes such as autobiographical recall. Better understanding alterations in selfhood is key to addressing psychological symptoms of people living with dementia, such as feelings of disconnection and reduced agency, and may inform new pathways for dementia care interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102268
Number of pages16
JournalClinical Psychology Review
Early online date5 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • Dementia
  • Review
  • Self
  • Selfhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology


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