A UK-based artist by the name of William Utermohlen was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1995 and he chronicled his own mental demise over his years of living with the disease. Unfortunately, Utermohlen died in 2007, but he drew a self-portrait every year until he was no longer able to before his death.
The artworks offer a unique glimpse into the mind of an Alzheimer’s patient, and how their mind deteriorates over time. Strikingly, we can see slow decay until 1999, where we can no longer distinguish any facial features. This serves as a potent demonstration of the exponential deterioration of the condition.
An essay by the artist’s widow Patricia explains perfectly exactly why these images are so powerful;
In these pictures we see with heart-breaking intensity William’s efforts to explain his altered self, his fears and his sadness.
It is unknown if the changes in his artworks came about through loss of artistic skills, or if it is a visual glimpse into his psyche. Perhaps most disturbing is that his final portrait was drawn a full 7 years before his death, but already shows substantial decay of abilities, be they physical or metal.
Images courtesy of Bored Panda.
1967 (before Diagnosis)
1996 (post diagnosis)