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Can J Neurol Sci. 2000 May;27(2):166-72.

Epilepsy in contemporary fiction: fates of patients.

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Epilepsy Centre Bethel, Bielefeld, Germany.


Fictional accounts of epilepsy are of interest because they may convey information on images and public views of epilepsy which are not contained in medical texts. Thus, medical and nonmedical traditions together form the cultural history of epilepsy. Of the numerous possible aspects of epilepsy in fiction, this paper looks especially at the writers' background of knowledge about epilepsy: epilepsy as a handicap and a reason for social rejection, with special reference to epilepsy under the Nazi rule; threats to patients' lives; the motive of the child with epilepsy as a divine child; and epilepsy as a fate, and a reason for distinction. Literary writers may help their readers understand that a person's suffering and fighting a condition like epilepsy very much deserves our attention and sympathy. Without being exclusive, the paper pays special attention to epilepsy in the writings of Canadian authors.

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