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June 11, 1927


Author Affiliations

From the Milwaukee Children's Hospital.

JAMA. 1927;88(24):1868-1870. doi:10.1001/jama.1927.02680500010004

Idiopathic or essential epilepsy is a chronic disease of the nervous system characterized by periodically recurring convulsions, lapses or abnormal mental states occurring in individuals with a personality defect or constitutional inferiority but with no demonstrated pathologic lesion. The personality defect or constitutional inferiority is probably an inherited defect and can be demonstrated in the behavior disturbances and reaction patterns that distinguish epileptic children.1 These children in the early stages of the disease are usually mentally precocious; they are excitable, highly emotional and self-centered, and they lack power of concentration. It is only later in the disease, after repeated seizures have definitely injured the brain, that the mental deterioration and apathy become manifest. The opinion regarding the inheritance of the personality defect is based on a study of more than 500 histories of epileptic children. In these a family history of migraine, nervous instability, epilepsy, insanity, syphilis and alcoholism