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March 1987

Epilepsy, Psychosis, and Forced Normalization

Author Affiliations

Rochester, NY

Arch Neurol. 1987;44(3):253. doi:10.1001/archneur.1987.00520150009009

On the morning of Jan 23, 1934, László von Meduna, Oberarzt to the Royal Hungarian National Mental and Nervous Asylum in Budapest, injected a young psychotic man with 4 g of camphor in oil. Forty-five minutes later, the patient experienced a 60-s generalized seizure. Neither neurology nor psychiatry has been the same since.

There is debate as to why von Meduna was doing such things.1 The common belief is that he had his epidemiology wrong concerning an incompatibility between epilepsy and psychosis but was fortunately so far wrong that he ended up with something useful. Others believe that he has been the victim of errant lexicographers and that he was one of the first to understand the syndromic antagonism between psychosis and seizure within individual patients. I prefer to believe the second hypothesis.

See also p 289.

A few years later Heinrich Landolt,2,3 Chief of the Swiss Asylum

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