Epilepsy in Francisco Sanchez, skeptical doctor Volume 20, supplement 2, Numéro spécial : Epilepsie et Renaissance

Université François-Rabelais de Tours, Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance, CNRS-UMR 6576

How could one be a physician, a skeptic about his own art, and practise medicine during forty years ? the brief chapter devoted to epilepsy in Francisco Sanchez’ (ca. 1550-1623) Opera Medica is characteristic of the wise treatment of internal diseases by this student of Jean Fernel. His case is particularly interesting, less by his actual explanation of epilepsy, than by his silences and by the importance he grants to this kind of disease in his works. With his sober method of describing signs and symptoms, and his lack of vanity in theoretical developments, he appears as a critical and demanding witness of contemporary medicine, while he supports the « virus » as a cause of epilepsy. Sanchez is an important representative of the implicite rejection of many medical authorities, because he carries on systematic doubt, without having any contact with the pre-cartesian trends.