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A history of epilepsy and the important contributions of John Hughlings Jackson

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  1. Introduction
  2. Epilepsy: As it is understood today
  3. Epileptic seizures
  4. The classification of the epilepsies and epileptic syndromes
  5. History of epilepsy up to hughlings jackson
  6. Beginnings of modern ideas on epilepsy
    1. Who is Hughlings Jackson?
    2. The young doctor
  7. Clinical and scientific contributions of hughlings jackson
    1. Jacksonian Seizure
    2. Convulsions
  8. Social implications of hughlings jackson's work
    1. The epileptic colony
  9. How is epilepsy perceived today?
  10. References

The word epilepsy is derived from the Greek verb epilambanein, meaning to be seized, to be overwhelmed by surprise (The History and Stigma of Epilepsy, 2003; Temkin, 1971). Epilepsy is a relatively common brain disorder ? affecting between 0.5 to 1 percent of the world's population ? yet it is often surrounded by prejudice and myth. Historically, one of the most influential figures in epilepsy research is John Hughlings Jackson (1835-1911). More than anyone else, Jackson is responsible for the modern understanding of epilepsy. More importantly, by introducing the concept that epilepsy is but a symptom and not a disease, Jackson brought about social and psychological change to the world. By viewing epilepsy as simply a medical condition, he helped to finally abandon all residues of belief that its occurrence is determined by influences of supernatural origin. This, in turn, indirectly improved the lives of countless people with epilepsy.

[...] John Hughlings Jackson was the son of Samuel Jackson, a farmer, and Sarah Hughlings, the daughter of a Welsh revenue collector. His mother died just over a year after giving birth to him. Jackson attended small country schools, and little is known of this period of his early life. At the age of fifteen, he was apprenticed to a Dr. Anderson, a lecturer at the no longer existent York Hospital Medical School in England. He later completed his medical education at St. [...]


[...] In closing, John Hughlings Jackson is one of the most influential neuroscientists in history. Not only did he construct definitions and theories about epilepsy that we still use today, he also brought about positive social change for people with epilepsy. REFERENCES Commission on Classification and Terminology of the International League Against Epilepsy. (1981). Proposal for revised clinical and electrocephalographic classification of epileptic seizures. Epilepsia 489-501. Commission on Classification and Terminology of the International League Against Epilepsy. (1985). Proposal for classification of epilepsies and epileptic syndromes. [...]


[...] SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS OF HUGHLINGS JACKSON'S WORK Examining the history of epilepsy provides a necessary base for assessing the impact of the rise of the neurosciences on the improved treatment and social acceptance of people with epilepsy (De Boer, 1995). Even after epilepsy was determined to be a neurological disorder, its stigma did not die immediately. There continued to be attempts to segregate people with epilepsy from society. Among these segregation methods utilized were; commitment to asylums for the insane, restriction from education and employment, and suppression by social and eugenic laws. [...]

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