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Epilepsies

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Religious semiology of epilepsy during the Renaissance period Volume 20, supplement 2, Numéro spécial : Epilepsie et Renaissance

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Certain types of epilepsies are not necessarily accompanied by motor convulsions, but present a mainly psychic semiology, with complex hallucinations. From Antiquity to the Renaissance, these psychic epilepsies were confused with supernatural demonstrations, and then regarded either as divine revelations conferring to the patient holiness, or as satanic appearances and sometimes like cases of heresy, justiciable to pyre’s flames. The doctors of the Renaissance could not recognize the existence of this neuropsychic pathology and integrate it in the medical field. They would have had to imagine that a spiritual life could have been possible without clergy nor divinity. Four centuries later, their neuropsychiatrist colleagues should wonder if a spiritual life is still possible without a pathology of the mystery. Misled by its perceptions and the heritage of ancestral utopias, the species homo sapiens sapiens is not able to avoid some logicial fallacies, and is victim of contagious illusions.