The unexpected return of mental clarity and memory shortly before death is a curious phenomenon that has so far received only little attention. I refer to this phenomenon as Terminal Lucidity.



The most remarkable cases involve patients whose brains were destroyed by diseases such as tumors and Alzheimer’s disease, but who seemed to recover shortly before death with their memory being intact.

Despite their potential to trigger the development of new forms of therapies and to contribute to an enhanced understanding of cognition, memory processing, and the nature of the human mind, terminal lucidity in patients with psychiatric and neurologic disorders was largely ignored by psychiatrists and other physicians.

Moreover, Terminal Lucidity often comes as a complete surprise to those who attend the dying, and thus, they might miss the last opportunity to optimally relate to a dying loved one who was non-responsive for a long time, sometimes for years.