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|What is epilepsy?|
|Types of epilepsies|
|Causes of epilepsy|
|The History of Epileptology|
|The Disease with 1000 Names|
|Institutions for people with epilepsy|
|People with epilepsy in the Third Reich|
|... in the Ancient World|
|... in the Ancient World|
|... in the Middle Ages|
|... from the Renaissance to the Present|
|Epilepsy Motifs in literature|
Votive tablets have played a major role in Christian tradition since the 17th century.
They are simple pictures painted on wood tablets depicting the reason why people called for help (e.g. sickness, an accident, or war) or the saint who is called upon to help.
The votive tablets were usually displayed in churches or places of pilgrimage as a visible sign that heavenly grace had been received or that a vow had been taken.
In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period, the visual arts were dominated by religious motifs.
People often commissioned works of art and had the right to determine themselves what was portrayed. The motivation to commission a picture was often gratitude for mercy and help given by God and the saints.
The content and manner of portrayal enable us to make certain assumptions about the life of the person who commissioned the pictures.
|"Epilepsy surgery" from the Middle Ages|
|Epilepsy motifs from other Cultures|
|Epilepsy motifs in Sculpture|
|Epilepsy Motifs in literature (1/2)
Epilepsy is portrayed and interpreted in many works of literature in varying ways. The main topics surrounding the disease which are dealt with in literary texts centre on phenomenology, etiology, diagnosis, therapy, doctor, patient, social reaction and symbolism. These themes recur independent of the style of the writer, but are marked by the artistic genre in which they are written and influenced by the culture and the medical knowledge of their age.
Works which deal with prejudice and clichés which make life for the person with the disease even more difficult stand in contrast to sensitive descriptions, some of which even manage to get across the fascination of the unusual feelings and perceptions which some patients experience during an epileptic seizure (e.g. the 'premonition of happiness' in Dostoyevsky). The literary preoccupation with epilepsy is of an importance which goes beyond the medical phenomenon and can motivate doctors, medical students and nursing staff to gain a deeper understanding of the many kinds of problems facing people with epilepsy.
Epilepsy Motifs in literature (2/2)
'Why', asks the neurologist Paul Vogel, who has made an intensive study of Dostoyevsky, his own epilepsy and the epilepsy suffered by the characters in his novels, 'Why shouldn't we doctors learn from the writer and see in his work a great example of the description and interpretation of a disease? Such an example can also throw light on the sick people we deal with in our day-to-day clinical work.'
All readers, especially those who are not doctors, can also gain a better understanding of and feel more empathy for people who have epilepsy. And those who have epilepsy themselves can find new ideas on how to cope with everyday situations and even find some consolation by reading about characters who also suffer from the same disease.
In the Epilepsy Museum's literature list there are over 100 titles of works of fiction in which epilepsy plays a role.