Throughout history, due to a limited understanding of their condition, people with epilepsy have been classified as everything from dangerous to mentally incompetent. They have been discouraged from participating in activities, even such standard ones as attending school and getting married. These types of misconceptions about epilepsy and the restrictions placed on those with the condition are the result of its being dealt with out of a fear-based on ignorance rather than out of an understanding based on fact.
Epilepsy, also identified as a seizure disorder, is a severe condition in which a person feels a sudden surge of electrical activity in the brain, influencing how they act or feel. There are many depictions of this disorder in television (all of which are wholly incorrect and for plot purposes only). Being personally afflicted with the most commercially medicated form of this disease, the most detailed description I could describe you with would be to tighten all your muscles as hard as you can, past the point of discomfort. You’re beginning to cramp, aren’t you? Now imagine this: while your muscles are tensing, you are repeatedly bashing your arms and your head against other solid objects (Do not try). It is a disturbing scene to witness a man trying to stand on his own two feet, but his muscles have been tightened to the point that it’s too painful to do so. To illuminate some of you about epilepsy, the following facts I have found about epilepsy through research, trauma, and treatment.
Epilepsy Facts in History
Table of Contents
From the days of witchcraft and mental illness to our modern scientific understandings of the disorder, this section traces the names and faces of epilepsy.
In the 4th century B.C., Athenian law provided that “when a party sells a slave, he shall declare beforehand if he has any blemish; if he omits to do so, he shall be compelled to make restitution.” Epilepsy was listed as an example of a blemish.
The ancient Babylonian code of Hammurabi contained a passage which stated that a slave could be returned and a full refund of his purchase price obtained if within a month after purchase the slave showed signs of epilepsy. ( The exact term used was “bennu” which has been interpreted to mean epilepsy.)
1. Ancient Greek business documents from Egypt have been found which contain clauses providing that the validity of the sale of a slave can be questioned if he proves to suffer from the “sacred disease”. One such document from 359 A.D. stipulated that the probationary period was six months following purchase.
2. In Plato’s Laws, the great philosopher proposed a detailed system of restitution in cases involving the sale of a slave with the “sacred disease” or epilepsy. First, if the purchaser was warned before the sale or if the purchaser was a doctor, he would not be eligible for restitution. (At the time it was believed that doctors had the ability to recognize epilepsy in any stage.) Second, if a professional person sold such a slave to a layperson, the buyer had 12 months from purchase to claim restitution. The case would be brought before a bench of doctors chosen by both parties; the losing party had to pay twice the slave’s purchase price to the winning party. Third, if both parties were non-professionals, the same rules would apply except that the losing party would have to pay the selling price only.
By the early 1800’s it was believed that certain maniacal states were manifestations of epilepsy and that in such a state the epileptic was dangerous and might even commit murder. Therefore it was necessary that the dangerous epileptic is diagnosed as such in court and certified so that he was not punished for his crimes. The belief is that, in his condition, he was not responsible for his acts. Delasiauve collected many examples of court proceedings against epileptics, one going back to 1808 when an epileptic murderer was acquitted and sent to a workhouse. In 1824, Ernestus Platner proposed that an epileptic should not be held responsible for a crime even if there were evidence of premeditation and intent to harm and even if at the time of the crime there were no suspicious signs of epilepsy or insanity.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the Australian police routinely handcuffed epileptics and held them in custody until they were admitted to an insane asylum. There was no hearing held prior to the commitment of the patient, as all those with epilepsy were considered to be “insane.”
The first German sterilization law was enacted on July 14, 1933 – only six months after Hitler became Chancellor. The Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring (the “Sterilization” Law) allowed the forced sterilization for anyone suffering from genetic blindness, hereditary deafness, manic depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy, congenital feeblemindedness, Huntington’s’ chorea, and alcoholism.
By the 1920s half of the U.S. States had enacted sterilization laws which included forced sterilization of the criminally insane and other “harmful groups of society.” Those suffering from epilepsy were included in these laws and as a result, quite a number of U.S. citizens with epilepsy, or thought to have the condition, were sterilized against their will.
Epilepsy – Just As Common As Breast Cancer
Eight types of Epilepsy
- simple epilepsy
- a.m. and early morning epilepsy
- seizures and other epilepsy symptoms connected to mental activity
- epilepsy with damaged brain tissue
- epilepsy caused by brain injury or brain surgery
- epilepsy related to mental disorders
- day and night epilepsy
- infantile spasms
Single tonic-clonic (otherwise known as grand mal) seizures lasting less than 5-10 minutes are not known to cause brain damage, contrary to the belief that seizures cause brain damage, they are more likely to stem from head trauma.
You cannot swallow your tongue during a seizure; you cannot swallow your tongue now, can you?
There have been some new implications that have caused many to believe epilepsy goes hand in hand with anxiety and depression.
Like a person with diabetes who is misinterpreted as a drunk driver, epileptics can often have a seizure that manifests itself as bizarre behavior, such as:
- repeating the same word
- not responding to questions
- speaking gibberish
- or screaming
Everyone is born with a seizure threshold. If your limit is high, you are less likely to have a seizure. However certain activities or things, known as triggers, can lower your limit, such as sleep deprivation, drinking alcohol, stress, flickering lights, illness, and hormones (for women mostly) can have an impact on your seizure threshold.
Only in about 30% of cases is the cause of epilepsy is found. The other 70% remain unanswered, in what is referred to as idiopathic epilepsy.
About 1 in 20 people with epilepsy are sensitive to flickering light, or photosensitive epilepsy. The contrast, or change in light, can trigger a seizure.
The official color for Epilepsy Awareness is Lavender, with the Pantone swatch of PMS 2593.
Seizures have a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning, referred to as the aura, can have signs of the oncoming seizure such as smells, sounds, tastes, lightheadedness, or Deja and jamais vu. The middle, is the seizure itself, whether it be a grand mal seizure or a simple partial seizure. The end of the seizure is called the postictal phase and is the brain recovering, which can take anywhere from seconds to hours and is usually accompanied by disorientation and memory loss.
The proper treatment for someone having a tonic-clonic seizure is not what you see on TV shows (multiple people pressing their body weight down on a seizing person). Here’s what you should do:
- Pay attention to how long the seizure lasts
- move objects that they could strikeout of the vicinity
- block their way to prevent them from moving too far (or into the water, fall off a bed, etc.)
- Put them on their side after the episode
- don’t put anything in their mouth
- If it lasts for more than five minutes, call an ambulance.
Diastat, or diazepam, is the medicine used to treat a prolonged seizure or cluster of seizures. It is a gel supplied in a plastic applicator that, most, unfortunately, has to be inserted rectally.
Epilepsy is usually not a lifelong disorder, with only 25% of those who develop seizures developing challenging to control seizures. And in my experience, those who have permanent seizure disorders have more severe conditions at play.
Details of Each Type of Epilepsy
- “Simple“ epilepsy also called “zoned out, blackouts,“ absence seizures or petit mal seizures where the patient doesn’t know what is going on for a few seconds or minutes.
- A.M. and early morning epilepsy, seizures, myoclonic jerks, and other symptoms of epilepsy from 3.00 a.m. till 9.00 a.m. This type of epilepsy is one of the most common among all of my clients. Seizures are coming during sleep or early in the morning after waking from sleep.
- Seizures and other epilepsy symptoms connected with some mental activity (going to school, stress, school studies, meeting another person, flashing lights or strobe lights, lack of sleep, etc.) This type of epilepsy is healable by my method but in some cases, cannot be healed in full unless the client will change the environment. For example, parents can notice that children don’t have any seizures while they are out of school(especially during the Summer holidays). The seizures are usually coming in the morning hours in most cases).
- Epilepsy from damaged brain tissue when the damage is not caused by surgery or brain injury. This is one of the most common causes of epilepsy that I have been healing. The defects (scarring, growths, electrical activity) on the brain are detected by EEG, CT, or MRI. Some children are born with these defects. In other cases, the findings show up after some time.
- Epilepsy caused by brain injury or by brain surgery (also caused by stroke, birth trauma (lack of oxygen), fetal development, by infections, or by brain tumor) In this case the brain injury occurred because of car accidents or getting hit in the head or any other activities when the brain was physically stressed and epilepsy happened after that. These are prevalent epilepsy cases as well, and my healing system has some limits with healing these particular cases of epilepsy.
- Epilepsy connected with mental disorders like Down’s syndrome, mental delays, development delays, and retardation. Mental disorders and delays can be helped in many cases, too, but it all depends on many factors.
- Day and night epilepsy. A person is getting seizures during the day, or it suddenly started, and nobody knows where it is coming from, there is nothing wrong with the body, no medication is working and nobody knows what to do about it. Or seizures occur regularly for a very long time and are happening within the day and evening hours.
- Infantile spasms (West Syndrome). This type of epilepsy makes me very happy to heal. Heavy medication is usually used in all these cases. Mental and motor skills delays are widespread. I’m capable of helping in many cases with all the aspects of this disorder.
Famous People with Epilepsy
Alexander the Great
Alexander, Grover Cleveland
Beckett, Sister Wendy
Joan of Arc
Mussorgsky, Modest (Petrovich)
Newton, Sir Isaac
Poe, Edgar Allen
Prophet, Elizabeth Clare
Saint Paul The Apostle
Swinburne, Algernon Charles
Tennyson, Lord Alfred
Van Gogh, Vincent
- The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy From the Greeks to the Beginnings of Modern Neurology – 2nd Revised Edition – Oswei Temkin – The John Hopkins University Press – 1971.
- Against Athenogenes – Kenyan’s Translation.