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April 6, 1940


JAMA. 1940;114(14):1347-1354. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.62810140007013

Traditionally the attitude toward the treatment of epilepsy is one of defeatism. By definition, epilepsy is a hopeless disease; why, therefore, waste time and attention on it? Because much of the current medical opinion about the nature of epilepsy is out of date, a few paragraphs must be spent in orientation. The intelligent use of drugs in the treatment of epilepsy necessitates an understanding of the underlying cause or causes of this disorder.

WHAT EPILEPSY IS  Briefly, epilepsy is a symptom of a disturbance in the electrochemical activity of the discharging cells of the brain: it is a paroxysmal cerebral dysrhythmia.1 In epilepsy the dysrhythmia of the brain is analogous to those disordered rhythms of the heart which interfere with cardiac function. The patterns of electrical rhythm seen in a normal person and in epileptic patients during the three principal types of seizures are shown in the accompanying electro-encephalographic

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