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October 1934


Author Affiliations


From the Harriet Lane Home of the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins Medical School.

Arch NeurPsych. 1934;32(4):723-736. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1934.02250100045004

The development in epileptic patients of certain traits of character and types of behavior has been so striking that a group of psychiatrists look on the "epileptic personality" as the essential part of the disease. They have used it not only to account for the inability of the epileptic patient to adjust normally to society but even to explain the seizures themselves, which, to their minds, represent "simply a regressive and protective mechanism resorted to by an overstressed organism."1 Other psychiatrists and the majority of internists regard the peculiarities of the epileptic patient as reactions to environmental restrictions and prejudices, without taking recourse to "hereditary taint" or "constitutional make-up."

Such differences in point of view are of more than academic interest. To believe that the disease is a fundamental defect in personality, hereditary in nature, is to make all therapy palliative. On the other hand, if the affliction is

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