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February 1946

The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy from the Greeks to the Beginnings of Modern Neurology.

Arch NeurPsych. 1946;55(2):169. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1946.02300130095014

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Abstract

In grasping and dealing with difficult concepts, a consideration of their history is a great, sometimes an essential, aid. For the first time, a scholarly, definitive history of the development of knowledge of epilepsy is made available, and every student of the subject should read it with care. In a work bristling with references and verbatim quotations, Dr. Temkin leads his readers from fragmentary references to convulsions in the literature of antiquity to a careful study of the philosophic and physiologic theories of Jackson and Charcot.

Many interesting bits of information are to be gathered on the way. The reference to epilepsy in the Code of Hammurabi is vague and of questionable authenticity. Unilateral seizures were mentioned by Hippocrates and were well described by Aretaeus, who stated that they could sometimes be controlled by sensory stimulation of the affected part. Hippocrates referred to epilepsy at one point as "the great

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