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April 25, 1903


JAMA. 1903;XL(17):1147. doi:10.1001/jama.1903.02490170031004

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In recent communications to a railroad paper two experts on railway matters offer their explanation of the too frequent unaccountable accidents that occur. These are generally due to mistakes on the part of the engineer, who, though often long-tried and experienced, may suddenly fail in his duty in the most remarkable way. He may neglect a signal, over-run his time or disobey an order, and the consequence is disaster. The theory adopted by these writers is that locomotive engineers, owing to the nature of their occupation, are especially subject to nervous strain which develops in them a form of epilepsy in which their reasoning power or judgment is temporarily destroyed. One of them states that the concentrated attention required for long periods of time brings about a peculiar nervous disturbance that has many of the external appearances of petit mal. The other expert likewise considers that an epileptic factor is

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