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Historical Aspects of Epilepsy: Overview

  • Thalia Valeta

Epilepsy has probably afflicted humans from their early evolution some 5 million years ago. Epilepsy has been one of the very few diseases that has been associated with so much medical and social attention, debate and misunderstanding. Patients with epilepsy, unlike many persons with other medical diseases, have been unfairly singled-out from medicine, religions and societies, prosecuted, and discriminated as being affected by magic, devils, or supernatural causes.

History has shown us most kinds of knowable past. The first recorded evidence of epilepsy is found in ancient Indian medicine of the Vedic period of 4500–1500 BC, but the main descriptions of the disease are mainly dated from 2000 BC as documented in the twenty-fifth Babylonian cuneiform tablet of “miqtu” (a disease where the person looses consciousness and foams at the mouth), the Indian Ayurvedic literature of Charaka Samhita, where epilepsy is described as “apasmara” (loss of consciousness) and the Hippocrates’ famous...

Keywords

Natural Disease Social Attention Indian Medicine False Idea Concise Account 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Eady MJ, Bladin PF (2001) A disease once sacred. A history of the medical understanding of epilepsy. John Libbey, EastleighGoogle Scholar
  2. Santayana G (1905) The life of reason. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, p 289Google Scholar
  3. Stoll M (1993) Epilepsy in Babylonia. Styx Publications, GroningenGoogle Scholar
  4. Temkin O (1994) The falling sickness: a history of epilepsy from the Greeks to the beginnings of modern neurology. John Hopkins University Press, BaltimoreGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag London Limited 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thalia Valeta
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Neurophysiology and EpilepsiesGuy’s, St Thomas’ and Evelina Hospital for NHS TrustLondonUK

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