Multicultural Perspectives on the Neuropsychological Assessment and Treatment of Epilepsy

  • Elaine Fletcher-Janzen
Part of the Critical Issues in Neuropsychology book series (CINP)


Rajendra Kale (1997) states that, “The history of epilepsy can be summarized as 4000 years of ignorance, superstition, and stigma followed by 100 years of knowledge, superstition, and stigma” (p. 1). Epilepsy was first recorded in Babylonian times, as far back as 2000 bc. The recordings of that time describe many of the different seizure types that we see today and treatments that were essentially spiritual in manner (WHO, 1997a). In the 5th century Hippocrates believed that epilepsy was not a “sacred disease” but rather a disorder of the brain. The word “epilepsia” is of Greek origin and means to “seize” or “take hold of.” The stigma and superstition associated with this condition was pervasive. It was not until the 19th century, when the field of neurology appeared, that the concept of epilepsy being a disorder of the brain became widespread and the idea of it being a medical condition started to counter the magical thinking to date (WHO, 1997b). However, Rajendra Kale is correct: After 100 years of medical knowledge and learning about epilepsy, most of the world continues to shroud the disorder in mystical and spiritual terms. This means that many who suffer from the disorder do not receive help, those that do receive help are many times discriminated against, and epilepsy stays ”in the shadows“ (WHO, 1997c).


Seizure Frequency Neuropsychological Assessment Seizure Disorder Treatment Compliance Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elaine Fletcher-Janzen
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Northern ColoradoColorado SpringsUSA

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