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Bruce Willis, diagnosed with aphasia, retires from acting

30 Comments
By JAKE COYLE

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Absolute legend, gutted to hear he’s calling it a day, twelve monkeys, pulp fiction, die hard, 5th element what a canon and legacy he leaves behind..

19 ( +19 / -0 )

Very rare condition unless it's the result of a brain trauma or stroke. And in those cases it is usually reversible as the brain recovers. In some cases, people with aphasia have lost their ability to speak their native language, but suddenly recover their ability to speak a language they studied but had forgotten as a child. Then, as they recover their native language, they lose the 2nd language again. It's a fascinating condition for anyone who studies the brain and learning. Notably, aphasia itself doesn't impair cognitive skills - people who suffer from it feel like prisoners inside their head. Perhaps the disease that is causing the aphasia is also impairing cognitive skills. If they can treat what is damaging his brain, he could recover.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Not at all unusual condition, considering the Hollywood lifestyle.

It is very possible that this story is a cover for early onset dementia or Alzheimer's disease.

-16 ( +0 / -16 )

I have personal experience with this, having had a family member who suffered from aphasia for five years or more. The person's speech become a jumble of disconnected phrases, with a meaning you can only guess at by using context or assessing the mood of the sufferer. Communicating with them becomes almost impossible. You have no idea what's being understood and what isn't. Best thing to do is to be positive, smile, grasp a phrase here and there and repeat it back to the person like a question, and above all to be patient with them. It is a really terrible thing, articularly when it happens to someone who - like my family member - was someone who loved talking and socializing.

I really sympathize with Bruce Willis and his family.

19 ( +19 / -0 )

Thank you Bruce Willis, I enjoyed your characters growing up.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I should add that the "five years or more" I mentioned did not end in a recovery. It ended with the person's dying.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

What a coincidence, I came across this article in a medical journal today about just this condition that describes a possible cause https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8223021/

I hope he recovers, or at least does not suffer too much discomfort

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Sad. I hope he is able to lead a fulfilling life despite his illness. According to Wikipedia: "The difficulties of people with aphasia can range from occasional trouble finding words, to losing the ability to speak, read, or write; intelligence, however, is unaffected." A window into the absolute mystery of language and humans' inexplicable ability to have created it.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I’m going to miss his movies. Hopefully he’ll be able to live happily.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Tragic for Bruce and his families. Watched Willis’s rise to stardom from TV’s Moonlighting with Cybill Shepherd to Top Box Office Star after Die Hard, Sixth Sense and Pulp Fiction.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Sadly, his recent movie appearances just seemed to be ‘phoned in’ for the paychecks (*Doraemon***, really?) Maybe it was also partially due to his developing affliction? **Regardless, ‘Best Wishes’ to Bruce and his immense family.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

@BigYen

Thanks for sharing your first hand experience on this. Much appreciated.

The issue seem to be with "speech". What about listening? Does the person still understand what is being said to him/her?

Also, what about writing? Is communication by writing still a possibility (i.e. always have a pad at hand and basically become a "mute" or a "deaf & mute" but still able to communicate with others through written communication).

3 ( +3 / -0 )

what a canon and legacy he leaves behind..

Very sad news to hear, but lets get a grip. For the most part he was an 80's action film star.

When your film bio includes the words "Hudson Hawk" and "direct to video", you don't get to use haughty words like "canon" to describe them

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

Thanks for all the fun movies and shows Bruce. Know that we are all pulling for you.

From aphasia dot com

If you’ve been diagnosed with aphasia, one of your first questions is probably, “Will I get better?” The answer is that recovery from aphasia is possible!

Every person is different. Some people will have a complete recovery. Some people mostly recover, but still find it hard to think of the right word sometimes. Others will always have aphasia but can continue to improve. The good news is that people can continue getting better for years after they get aphasia.

Glad to read there’s hope.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sorry to hear that. I wonder if there is any link to long coronavirus and microclots. I have a friend around 60 in Japan who fell off his bike and is now partially paralyzed and unable to speak.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The good news is that people can continue getting better for years after they get aphasia.

It has been a few years, but I was considering pursuing my graduate studies focusing on aphasia and linguistics. The condition provides invaluable insights into how we use, learn and remember language. It convinced me that we never actually lose anything once remembered. Things we forget are still archived in a file somewhere in our brains.

The bad news for Bruce is that it can only get better if the underlying cause is cured or addressed.

The issue seem to be with "speech". What about listening? Does the person still understand what is being said to him/her?

In this case, it involves listening (as noted in the article). In many cases in only affects speaking. So the person suffering from it who wants to say "pass me the salt" instead hears "obliga pritizel ork" coming out of his mouth. You can imagine how frustrating that must be.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I am so sad to hear this news. Bruce Willis is one of my favourite actors.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The bad news for Bruce is that it can only get better if the underlying cause is cured or addressed

That would certainly tie in with my relative's (let's call him "A") experience. In his case he was so physically and neurologically damaged from heart problems, triple bypass surgery, a major stroke and innumerable microstrokes as well as actual vascular dementia, that there was no chance of recovery.

So the person suffering from it who wants to say "pass me the salt" instead hears "obliga pritizel ork" coming out of his mouth. You can imagine how frustrating that must be.

In A's case, the words were always actual words. They were just random, syntactically disorganised, and therefore made little, and frequently no, sense. What he said had to be interpreted using other clues as to his meaning - his general health, his expression, what was going on around him, etcetera. I have to say too that at least when visitors such as ourselves came around, he was almost always happy and wanted to "talk".

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@blue:

The issue seem to be with "speech". What about listening? Does the person still understand what is being said to him/her?

I'd say "yes", for sure, although with limitations. And translating that verbal comprehension into a meaningful intellectual process resulting in a coherent verbal response was mostly beyond my relative's powers, although he did have breakthroughs sometimes - or maybe I should say it was us who had the breakthroughs, because we understood him!

Pretty obviously, there are degrees of severity of aphasia, and variations in the symptoms. Perhaps in Bruce Willis's case, his physical fitness (he'd be fitter than my relative, for sure) might save him from the worst of its effects. I hope so.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Reading what Bruce Will is going through, aphasia, has been a learning lesson for me particularly as that must be what my father had towards the end of his life. What a bummer.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Sad end to a great career in movies, as well as TV decades ago.

Apparently the most recent movies Willis has been doing he has been reduced to using an earpiece and being fed his lines. Thats not the way we want to remember this Hollywood action hero. Tragic.

Willis' high point for me was as Butch in Pulp Fiction!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

In A's case, the words were always actual words. They were just random, syntactically disorganised, and therefore made little, and frequently no, sense.

I don't know about your relative's case, but others who later recovered reported that they knew what they wanted to say, with the words formed correctly in their brain, but completely different (nonsense) words came out of their mouth. They could hear for themselves it was nonsense, but were powerless to change it. Between their brain and their mouth the message just got garbled.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The issue seem to be with "speech". What about listening? Does the person still understand what is being said to him/her?

It seems there is a broad division between expressive aphasia and receptive aphasia. I'm not sure if you can suffer from both. Some information here:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/aphasia/symptoms/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Absolute legend. Sad to hear this..

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@BigYen

@Albaleo

Thanks for the feedback and insight.

It does remind me of my dad who in his twilight years would toss in what seemed to us like "odd" or "random" words in the discussion or misuse words. One of the cases that really got my mother's and my attention was when he started to ask for the "compass" at the evening dinner table. What he meant was the pepper pot....

After a medical check, it came out that he suffered from a series of what they called "micro-strokes" since his last check.

Getting old is no fun. We'll all get there eventually. Good luck to Willis.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

commanteer:

That’s certainly very interesting. What makes me feel good about reading that is that we always treated A as though he was speaking sense. Never as if he were speaking gibberish. So there’s something positive in all this. Cheers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

While he has appeared in a LOT of lemons, he has also graced us with twice as many classics (and I like the lemons, too). Thank you, Mr. Willis. It's devastating that you must step down, but likely more devastating for you. Wishing you and yours the best, and hope you get well. I will always watch your movies over and over, and over.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Where's Chris Rock when ya need him

https://www.giantfreakinrobot.com/ent/bruce-willis-razzie-category.html

Bruce Willis Is So Awful [in 2021] He Has His Own Razzie Category To Compete Against Himself

The Razzies recently unveiled their nominations for 2022, which include the new “Worst Performance By Bruce Willis In A 2021 Movie” category.

It looks like it could be a hotly contested vote too — Bruce Willis appeared in eight movies in 2021, and every single one of them has received a Razzie nomination. In alphabetical order by title — with their accompanying Rotten Tomatoes Critics’ Score — there’s American Siege (0%), Apex (0%), Cosmic Sin (3%), Deadlock (no score), Fortress (20%), Midnight in the Switchgrass (8%), Out of Death (0%), and Survive the Game (14%).

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Very sad. I still remember my sheer delight when I watched the “Die Hard" for the first time. Also liked other his movies. Take a break, tough guy, may be you recover.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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