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|What is epilepsy?|
|Types of epilepsies|
|Causes of epilepsy|
|The History of Epileptology|
|The Disease with 1000 Names|
|Institutions for people with epilepsy|
|People with epilepsy in the Third Reich|
|... in the Ancient World|
|... in the Ancient World|
|... in the Middle Ages|
|... from the Renaissance to the Present|
|Epilepsy Motifs in literature|
Therapy in the Ancient World
Attempts to treat epileptic seizures and the disease epilepsy date back to prehistoric times. In every historical epoch, the beliefs which people held about the disease dictated the types of therapy which were used.
In the time before Hippocrates, when the "sacred disease" was thought to be an illness sent by the gods, people would offer sacrifices, seek expiation and take part in religious acts under the instruction of doctor-priest(preferably in the temple) in an attempt to be cured.
The supporters of Hippocratic medicine, who believed that epilepsy had a natural cause, tried to treat the disease using natural means (humoral pathology: the ancient physiological theory of fluids or humors). The treatment was based on dietetics, or a structured, "sensible" lifestyle. This dietetic therapy was based on three pillars: dietary regulations, the regulation of excretions, and physiotherapy.
Therapy in the Middle Ages (1/2)
In the Middle Ages, epilepsy was no longer considered to have natural causes but was rather thought to be the work of devils, evil spirits and demons ("morbus daemonicus"). As a result, "therapeutic" methods also changed and took the form of prayer, fasting, offering sacrifices, making pilgrimages or undergoing "exorcisms"
›› St. Valentin People turned to several saints for direct help or prayed to them to intercede with God on their behalf. Many sacred, devotional objects were used to combat epilepsy (treatment using the saints and sacred objects: "hagiotherapy").
After the plague, epilepsy was the disease with the most saints who were "responsible" for providing a cure, and the most important one in Germany was Valentin (probably because of the similarity of his name with the German words for "to fall" [fallen], "falling sickness" [Fallsucht], and "don’t fall down" - fall net hin - Valentin).
|Therapy in the Middle Ages (2/2)|
Alongside the medieval Christian attempts to find a cure, various superstitious methods of treatment also developed, e.g. spells, witchcraft, fetishism, the use of amulets. These actually continue to be used in some countries today. So-called 'Fraisen utensils' played an important role, especially in south Germany. 'Fraisen' was the name given to epileptic seizures in small children, e.g. febrile seizures ('fraisan' is an old gothic word meaning: to bring danger). People used the following items in an attempt to ward off seizures: Fraisenkette (a chain or necklace), Faisenpulver (a powder), Fraisenstein (a stone), Fraisenmünze (a coin), Fraisenuhr (a clock).
"Phytotherapy" - treatment using plants and parts of plants - was also widely used in the Middle Ages. During this period there was hardly a plant which was not used to treat the "falling sickness", as epilepsy was called. The most important plants were: valerian, peony, mugwort, thorn-apple, common henbane, mistletoe, belladonna, foxglove, bitter orange and Peruvian bark.
|Therapy from the Renaissance to today (1/2)|
|Therapy from the Renaissance to today (2/2)|
Modern epilepsy surgery can help a number of these "therapy-resistant" patients, however.