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November 13, 1926

Epilepsy: A Functional Mental Illness, Its Treatment.

JAMA. 1926;87(20):1670. doi:10.1001/jama.1926.02680200070037

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The authors discuss epilepsy in patients with seizures first appearing during or after the war. They review a small part of the experimental and pathologic literature and show that an organic causation of epilepsy is not at all proved. By means of psychologic studies of hospitalized soldiers the psychogenic factor of epilepsy is discussed. This is all too superficial, and conclusions are drawn from inadequate psychiatric investigations. Fright, physical trauma, the memory of bloody scenes, are disclosed in "flashes of memory" to the patient, and apparently the adequate conscious realization of these scenes again was sufficient in many cases to cure the epilepsy. The authors advocate, therefore, as treatment "explanation, exploration and reeducation," with the help of a simple outdoor life and no drugs. This book is of little value in our progress toward a better understanding of the epilepsies.

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