Opening Address

Conference paper


A hereditary component has often been discussed as being one of the causes of epilepsy. A historical review of this idea must start with Hippocrates, who emphasized that epilepsy was hereditary in his book “On the Holy Disease”. We might consider it paradoxical today that he considered the concept of hereditary disease an argument against a contemporary prejudice — that epilepsy had a supernatural cause. Hippocrates argued that epilepsy was not in any way “holier” than other diseases, because it was hereditary and could even be found in animals. Today, 2500 years later, the generally accepted scientific opinion is that epilepsy is a disease with a hereditary disposition rather than an inevitable “curse.”


Idiopathic Epilepsy Epileptic Syndrome Opening Address Scientific Opinion Genetic Science 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Janz
    • 1
  1. 1.Neurologische AbteilungUniversitätsklinikum Rudolf Virchow, Freie Universität BerlinBerlin 19Germany

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