Seekers of Meaning 3/3/2023: Dr. Stephen Post, Author of God and Love on Route 80

On this week’s episode of the Seekers of Meaning TV Show and Podcast, author Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., discusses his books, Dignity for Deeply Forgetful People: How Caregivers Can Meet the Challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease and God and Love on Route 80: The Hidden Mystery of Human Connectedness.

How do we approach a “deeply forgetful” loved one so as to notice and affirm their continuing self-identity? For three decades, Stephen G. Post has worked around the world encouraging caregivers to become more aware of—and find renewed hope in—surprising expressions of selfhood despite the challenges of cognitive decline.

In this book, Post offers new perspectives on the worth and dignity of people with Alzheimer’s and related disorders despite the negative influence of “hypercognitive” values that place an ethically unacceptable emphasis on human dignity as based on linear rationality and strength of memory. This bias, Post argues, is responsible for the abusive exclusion of this population from our shared humanity. With vignettes and narratives, he argues for a deeper dignity grounded in consciousness, emotional presence, creativity, interdependence, music, and a self that is not “gone” but “differently abled.” 

Stephen G. Post was the perfect child and A-student until he took off in the family car, compelled by a persistent vision, his “blue angel dream.” Crossing America on Route 80, his unlikely adventure culminates in a shocking encounter that sets the stage for the rest of his life, a path connected by synchronicities which Post perceived as guidance from God and proof of humanity’s fundamental oneness, Infinite Mind. Truly a story for the ages, God and Love on Route 80 touches on the essential meaning of life and the messages we may all miss unless we begin paying close attention.

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About the Guest

Stephen G. Post, Ph.D.

Stephen G. Post, Ph.D., is internationally recognized for his work with deeply forgetful people, their families and allied organizations. His book The Moral Challenge of Alzheimer’s Disease: Ethical Issues from Diagnosis to Dying (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000) was designated a “medical classic of the century” by the British Medical Journal. His research on the dynamics of compassionate care in the lives of persons with dementia and their caregivers resulted in his being elected a member of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board of Alzheimer’s Disease International. He is also one of only several recipients of the Alzheimer’s Association national distinguished service award “in recognition of personal and professional outreach to the Alzheimer’s Association Chapters on ethics issues important to people with Alzheimer’s and their families.”

Post began his work with “deeply forgetful people” while in Cleveland where he served as a professor at the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (1988–2008). He has published widely on dignity, ethics, and spirituality of caregiving, and he has been quoted in more than 3000 international newspapers and magazines, including The New York TimesParade MagazineO, The Oprah Magazine, and many TV programs including The Daily Show. Post is the author of 300 articles in premier journals such as Science, the New England Journal of MedicinePsychosomatic MedicineHospital PediatricsJournal of the American Academy of Religion, and the Journal of the American Medical Association. The author of several books including the bestselling Why Good Things Happen to Good People (Random House), Post’s most recent book, published by the Johns Hopkins University Press (2022) is Dignity for Deeply Forgetful People: How Caregivers Can Meet the Challenges of Alzheimer’s Disease. He offers insights and perspectives that encourage us all to recognize the continuing self-identity and dignity of affected individuals and their caregivers.

A graduate of the University of Chicago with training in psychology, world religions, and ethics, Post is renowned for his work on compassionate care at the interface of science, ethics, spiritual thought, and behavioral medicine. He is the President of the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, which he co-founded with philanthropist Sir John Templeton, who personally selected Post as President in 2001. He is also founding director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York (2008–present), where he also serves as Professor of Family, Population, and Preventative Medicine and Head of the Division of Medicine in Society.

Post served as a co-chair of the United Nations Population Fund conference on spirituality and global transformation. He is an elected member of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia for “distinguished contributions to medicine,” the New York Academy of Medicine, and the Royal Society of Medicine, London.

An opinion leader and public speaker, Post served on the Board of the John Templeton Foundation (2008–2014), which focuses on virtue and public life. A leader in research on the benefits of giving and on compassionate care in relation to improved patient outcomes and clinician well-being, Post addressed the U.S. Congress on volunteerism and health, receiving the Congressional Certificate of Special Recognition for Outstanding Achievement. Post was co-recipient (2012) with Edmund D. Pellegrino MD of the Pioneer Medal for Outstanding Leadership in HealthCare from the HealthCare Chaplaincy Network, and the Kama Book Award in Medical Humanities from World Literacy Canada (2008). Co-Recipient of the 2019 National Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society Professionalism Award for development of the Professional Identity Formation curriculum at the School of Medicine, at Stony Brook (2008–present), where his Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, “a place where the human side of medicine is elevated, examined and revered,” was selected (2011) for special institutional excellence by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (AMA & AAMC accrediting body), the only humanities and ethics entity in American medical school history to receive this distinction.

A recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities “top public speaker” award, Post uses a highly engaging style with a mix of stories, clinical, and philosophical perspectives to inspire audiences. Dr. Post continues to travel the globe speaking about those with memory issues and sharing about the transformative benefits of kindness, volunteering, spirituality, forgiveness and purpose.

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