Epilepsy: The Misunderstood Disorder Essay

1824 words - 7 pages

Epilepsy is a condition in which a person has two or more seizures affecting a variety of mental and physical functions. Epilepsy is one of the oldest conditions of the human race. Epilepsy Awareness is important because Epilepsy is a widely misunderstood disorder. The reason that Epilepsy has been misunderstood has been mainly due to research not being conducted until the middle of the nineteenth century. There are six main types of seizures and many treatments that can assist an epileptic patient. Many facts and myths exist about a person who has Epilepsy, which, is why it is an important disorder to understand. A person living with Epilepsy can typically have a normal life after seeking medical advice from doctors.
Epilepsy has been around since the beginning. During the Greek period, many believed that seizures were actual visitations from the gods. The Greeks often called this disorder “The Sacred Disease” (Schachter). However, Hippocrates believed that Epilepsy was no more sacred than any other disease (Schachter). During the Renaissance period, people begin to believe that seizures were associated with evil demons and that the devil possessed the person. During this period, society would burn people at the stake who had seizures after accusing them of being sorcerers. Even as much as a century ago, it was difficult for a person who had Epilepsy. There was little known about Epilepsy, Society shunned people that had this disorder and epileptic patients often led a life of isolation. People thought that Epilepsy was contagious and were often isolated in hospitals into areas that were for “epileptic only” (Landau). It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that Physicians and Neurologist begin to study and research Epilepsy. Many Neurologist have paved the way for patients with Epilepsy. However, Doctor John Hughlings Jackson, who was a British Physician, made the discovery that rapid firing of nerve cells within the Cerebral Cortex triggered seizures. It would be many decades later before the medical field would fully understand what Epilepsy was. Even as late as the 1920’s marriage and children was illegal in some states for Epileptic patients. In the states where this was illegal, the states forced these patients to undergo sterilization surgery.
Today, over 6.5 million people have Epilepsy and it is the fourth most common neurological disorder. Many historical and modern day figures have had Epilepsy. Some classical writers that had Epilepsy were Dante who wrote “The Devine Comedy”, Sir Walter Scott who wrote “The Waverly”, Jonathan Swift who wrote “Gullivan’s Travel”, Edgar Allen Poe who wrote “The Raven” and Charles Dickens who wrote “Oliver Twist” and “A Christmas Carol” (Schachter). Some of the most famous composers that had Epilepsy were Beethoven, Peter Tchaikovsky, Niccolo Paganini, and George Frederick Handel (Schachter). There has also been some very famous world leaders such as Alexander the great,...

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