John Libbey Eurotext

L'Information Psychiatrique


Withdrawal and aging Volume 93, issue 4, Avril 2017

1 Hôpital Broca-APHP, Réseau Mémorys, Paris Centre et Sud. Medforma,
108 bis boulevard A. Blanqui 75013 Paris, France
2 Unité de Liaison Psychiatrique, Centre d’Action Sociale de la ville de Paris, EHPAD Alquier Debrousse
1, allée Alquier Debrousse
75020 Paris, France
3 17 rue Saint Aloïse,
67100 Strasbourg, France
4 Centre Ressource régional de psychiatrie du sujet âgé,
Hôpital Corentin-Celton, APHP,
4 parvis Corentin-Celton,
92130 Issy-les-Moulineaux, France
* Correspondance
  • Key words: aging, elderly, Diogenes syndrome, mood disorder, sensory disorder, geriatric cachexia, frontotemporal dementia
  • DOI : 10.1684/ipe.2017.1630
  • Page(s) : 302-9
  • Published in: 2017

The concept of withdrawal and aging are combined in several ways and have different semiological aspects. Old age is a period of life favorable to withdrawal. After providing the different definitions and temporalities of old age, we will discuss the different stages and possibilities of withdrawal. In our western societies, where the representation of old age borders on blissful ageism, it is not good to “get old”. However, withdrawal is intimately linked to the aging and social life of the latter. Thus, we will see how social withdrawal takes shape with the empty nest syndrome, at the time of the children's departure and the beginning of withdrawl. As we live longer and longer “in good health, the age of this retirement is more and more delayed. Moreover, sensory aging can lead to social isolation and it is important to overcome these sensory failures in order to remain connected. Taste, smell, touch, vision and hearing are no longer as effective in maintaining the relational link and the pathologies of disaffection contribute to reinforce social withdrawal. Neurodevelopmental approaches emphasize that hypofunctional frontal lobes with dyssexual anomalies, such as those encountered in fronto-temporal dementia, lead to pathological withdrawals, well known as Diogenes syndrome. Withdrawal and refusal are the keystone of this troubled behavior. Degradation of the body is an integral part of the aging process. Over the years, this involution is biologically predetermined. The aging, fragile body can lead to hypochondriac over-investment at the expense of the outside world and may lead to withdrawal. Finally, depression and suicide are frequent pathologies of the elderly and draw the contours of a form of extreme withdrawal.