Clown's view as respiciō: Looking respectfully to and after people with dementia.

Rudolf Hendriks*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Web of Science)


Clowns seem suspect when it comes to respect. The combination of clowning and people with dementia may seem especially suspicious. In this argument, I take potential concerns about clowning in dementia care as an opportunity to explore the meaning of a respectful approach of people with dementia. Our word 'respect' is derived from the Latin respicio, meaning 'looking back' or 'seeing again', as well as 'looking after' or 'having regard' for someone or something. I build upon this double meaning of respicio by examining how simultaneously we look to and after people with dementia. I do so empirically by studying how miMakkus clowns in their practice learn to look with new eyes to people and things around them. I call this clown's view and differentiate it from the predominant way of observing people in dementia care. I argue that respicio comes in two guises, each of which merges specific forms of looking to and looking after the other. By making conventional, solidified ways of seeing the other fluid again, clowns remind us of the value that comes with a veiled way of paying respect to people with dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-217
Number of pages11
JournalMedicine Health Care and Philosophy
Issue number2
Early online date23 Sept 2016
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


  • Elder-clowning
  • Embodiment
  • Care ethics
  • Person-centered dementia care
  • Reciprocity
  • Respect
  • Sense perception

Cite this