The problem of epilepsy in New York State


This paper can be but a brief review of the subject, epilepsy: what the term implies, some of the alleged causative factors, its frequency, out-standing symptoms and care and treatment in the home, clinic, or institution, of those affected. I t is not a scientific treatise, simply an effort to present some points pertaining to the disorder and its management. A convulsion, because of its alarming effect on the bystanders early made an impression on mankind. Most persons, even now, do not appreciate that the essential symptom of epilepsy is disturbance or loss of consciousness, including many types of seizures other than convulsions. Consider normal gradations of impairment or loss of consciousness, e.g., absent-mindedness, mental concentration, sleep, etc. I t may be difficult to differentiate between syncope and an epileptic attack. The ancients recognized the disorder and aptly characterized the dramatic manifestations as "se izures" or "a t tacks ." I ts appearance early in life, connection with a brain disorder, the alleged peculiar temperament, relation to habit, etc., are recorded. The interest aroused by it is manifested in the vast literature accumulated through the centuries. Recurring epileptiform convulsions are observed in many disorders, as well as those of the nervous system. These are but symptomatic. In idiopathic epilepsy the cause of the symptoms is not apparent. Many formerly classed as epileptic are now placed in other categories, e.g., spasmophilia, uremia, puerperal eclampsia, apoplexy, brain tumor, general paresis, diabetes, etc. Aldren Turner and others believe the importance of the hereditary element in the convulsive disorders is underestimated, admitting the older writers did not sufficiently distinguish between epilepsies and many irrelevant factors. Thirty-three per cent of Turner 's cases showed existence of family predisposition and he refers to a familial group, in which the disorder may be traced through several generations. He admits 67 per cent, the group most commonly encountered in private practice, do not show familial disability.

DOI: 10.1007/BF01567675

Cite this paper

@article{D2005ThePO, title={The problem of epilepsy in New York State}, author={William T. Shanahan M. D.}, journal={Psychiatric Quarterly}, year={2005}, volume={1}, pages={160-183} }