Trance and epilepsy in Tamberma district of Togo : clinical, electroencephalographical and neuropsychological studies of six cases of odueri (« falling women ») Volume 20, issue 2, avril-mai-juin 2008

Service de neurologie de Lomé, BP 30284, Togo

It is not easy to make difference between epileptic seizures and strange behaviours. The aim of our study is to check whether trances presented by some women during funerals were due to epilepsy.Methodology. A neuroepidemiological investigation conducted between November 30, 2001 and January 29, 2002 in Tamberma district founded 6 women who presented trances (odueri) during funeral rituals (tibenti). In all cases, clinical, neuropsychological and electroencephalographical examinations were performed. They were followed up for 5 years. Results. Average age was 31 ± 12,4 years ; 5 of them did not know to read or write. They had all professional activities and were animists. Clinical examination and EEG were normal. No change was noted during the five years of follow-up. Compared to controls, they were 4 times more anxious and twice more depressed. Conclusion. Clinical, neuropsychological and electroencephalographical examinations and long-term follow-up help distinguish trances from epileptic seizures.