The word ‘dementia’ has different meanings according to its literary, judicial or medical use. So it seems useful to recall the semantic definition in order to enable practitioners and researchers to use a common language avoiding any risk of misunderstanding. According to etymology, the word means ‘loss of mind’. Its definition evolved in France from the time of Pinel, who named dementia all kinds of thought abolition, until one of the alienists of the late 19th century stated the present meaning of the word: a global, progressive and nonreversible impairment of the intellectual abilities. The DSM 3 criteria are not in perfect accordance with this definition, giving some precisions, perhaps not yet sufficient.

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