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September 1988

Théodore HerpinA Mid-19th Century View on Epilepsy

Arch Neurol. 1988;45(9):1042-1044. doi:10.1001/archneur.1988.00520330138023

The European neurologist Théodore Herpin (1799-1865) has greatly influenced our knowledge of epilepsy as a neurologic disorder. In his double law of identity, he suggested that incomplete (partial) seizures evolve into generalized tonic-clonic seizures, and, furthermore, that the clinical phenomenology at the onset of a seizure is always or nearly always identical for an individual patient. His longitudinal observations indicated that the therapeutic outcome is poorer in epilepsy of long duration and in patients with a high number of seizures prior to treatment or delayed treatment and in those with neuropsychiatric deficits. Herpin recom-mended zinc oxide for the treatment of epilepsy and, surprisingly, reported a failure rate similar to that of modern antiepileptic drug treatment. Finally, in 1867 Herpin2 provided the first clinical description of juvenile myoclonic epilepsy (impulsive petit mal).

Théodore Herpin has profoundly influenced our knowledge of the clinical manifestations of epileptic seizures and of the