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... by famous people with learning disabilities or differences

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Epilepsy

Did you see the service announcements on TV recently about epilepsy, and helping to bring it out of the shadows? The people whose fear and prejudices help keep it in the shadows could perhaps do with a little history lesson.

The luminaries believed to have had this condition is startling and include Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar, Mohammed and Socrates, Sir Isaac Newton and Pascal, Handel and Vincent Van Gogh.

Epilepsy has also laid claim to a great many writers - among them Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsly, Leo Tolstoy, Jonathan Swift, Lewis Carroll and even Danté. In fact, Dostoevsky describes no less than 17 accounts of epileptic seizures in his novels. Lewis Carroll seems to suggest the aura of a temporal lobe seizure in Alice in Wonderland.

Epilepsy has laid claim to so many brilliant people that there are some who believe epilepsy may be connected to genius. Journalist Eve LaPlante writes in her book Seized that the abnormal brain activity found in temporal lobe (complex partial) epilepsy might play a role in creativity. And she is not the only one. Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE), is the most common form of epilepsy, and known to produce mystical experiences in some people.

Others, like Dr. Jerome Engel, Professor of Neurology and author of the book Seizures and Epilepsy, disagree. He believes epilepsy in geniuses is just a coincidence because the disorder is common.

In fact, the prevalence of epilepsy is about 5-10 cases per 1000 persons, (excluding febrile convulsions and single seizures - which would pretty much include many of the rest of us) making it the most common serious neurological condition. Whether you agree or not, what can't be argued is having epilepsy in itself is no reason to fear, condemn, or think any less of a person.

Most contemporaries with epilepsy are afraid to come forward, fearing discrimination. Some who have include actor Danny Glover and rock star Neil Young . A few others no longer with us include Richard Burton and Margaux Hemingway.

You can visit this site to learn what to do in case of a seizure.

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