The Dark Side of Epilepsy

Dieter Schmidt and Simon Shorvon

in The End of Epilepsy?

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2016 | ISBN: 9780198725909
Published online October 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191792854 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Medical Histories

The Dark Side of Epilepsy

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  • History of Neuroscience
  • History of Medicine


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Epilepsy is a Janus-faced disease. It has a bright and a dark side. This chapter discusses the dark side of epilepsy that can harm and can devastate. It provides a perspective on the situation today and how this was arrived at. In about 20% of individuals, seizures once developed can never be fully controlled by drugs and for some, control takes many years or is never achieved. When severe, epilepsy will often destroy health and shorten life. Sudden unexpected death in epilepsy is a dark reality. Treatment of severe epilepsy is sometimes denied, delayed, or inappropriately applied, with devastating consequences; mistreatment, over-treatment, or under-treatment all occur. Modern drugs and devices for uncontrolled seizures often offer a poor value proposition. Millions of people are taking drugs that do not help them, have had operations which have failed to stop the seizures, or have had scans or other tests that carry no benefit. Fraud and scientific misinformation are other shadows which inhabit the dark corners of epilepsy.

Chapter.  8988 words. 

Subjects: History of Neuroscience ; History of Medicine

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