Davids Memory Problems

David worried that he was "losing it." The it referred to his ability to absorb, integrate, and analyze the hundreds of bits of information that arrived at his desk daily via phone calls, e-mails, faxes, and so on. He told me that he used to have a "photographic" memory but that he now experienced his memory as a "faded watercolor," in which previously sharp details had become indiscernible. To illustrate the problem, he described a recent morning walk through the studio of a television show that his division was producing. As usual, he made mental notes of ten issues that required his personal attention. But fifteen minutes later, when he was back in his office, he could recall only half of the items on his list.

I asked if any of his associates or family members had commented on problems with his memory or performance. He said they had not.

When asked about other changes that he was concerned about, he mentioned feeling more short-tempered and impatient. He recounted an episode in which he yelled at his eleven-year-old daughter, who had accidentally knocked over a glass of milk at the dinner table. Other changes included a weight gain of ten pounds over the past six months (due, in part, to a donut-based breakfast) and difficulty sleeping. He hardly exercised anymore, and he was spending more and more time in the office.

When I asked about alcohol use, he hesitatingly acknowledged that alcohol had become a "mini issue." He had been drinking at business lunches and had upped his evening drink to "two or three." I then asked about his mood and probed his attitude toward his life, and he confided that the things he used to enjoy most in life, such as opera, photography, and tennis, had "lost some of their luster."

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