1902 Encyclopedia > Hystero-epilepsy


HYSTERO-EPILEPSY, a nervous disease of women, occurring during the fertile period of life, first observed and described by Professor Charcot of Paris. As yet it has been rarely observed in Great Britain. Its phenomena are very extraordinary, and serious doubts have been entertained by eminent authorities as to their substantiality, it being asserted that they are merely manifestations of ordinary hysteria, intensified by a process of education. But these doubts are being rapidly dissipated by the observations of competent observers. The disease is of a paroxysmal nature, and its symptoms may be divided into inter-paroxysmal and paroxysmal. The former consist of extreme sensitiveness over the region of one or (less frequently) both ovaries, and loss of tactile sensibility and complete insensibility to pain in one lateral half of the body, the side on which ovarian tenderness exists. Sight is sometimes implicated, manifested by a peculiar form of colour-blindness. Perhaps the most remarkable phenomenon presented in this disease is that all these impairments of sensation may be shifted to the other side of the body on the application of magnets and plates of metals, the originally affected side regaining sensibility so long as the opposite one is insensible. In some cases the symptoms are permanently bilateral. The paroxysm consists in violent general convulsion, epileptiform in character, which is at once checked by pressure over the tender ovary. The mental faculties are generally weakened, and the disease is for the most part incurable. (See Charcot, Lectures on Diseases of the Nervous System, New Sydenham Soc,, 1877.)

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