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May 5, 1956


JAMA. 1956;161(1):96. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02970010098031

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To the Editor:—  An article in The Journal, March 3, 1956, page 736, illustrates well a basic problem in the use of the word "epilepsy." The authors, Dr. William Bolt and Edward A. Lew, discuss certain aspects of insurance company data and call attention to the fact that a follow-up study of approximately 1,000 persons who had had one or more attacks of "epilepsy" revealed a significant increase in mortality above the standard risks. It can be contended that (1) this observation has limited meaning and (2) it unfairly adds one more socioeconomic handicap for those many patients whose epileptic disorders are benign in manifestation and course. The various forms of epileptic discharge can be clinically mild or severe and can result simply from genetic dysrhythmias or from serious brain lesions. Some of the underlying causes are progressive and some static. Hence, a statistical conclusion about prognosis that takes no

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