Fyodor Dostoevsky and his falling sickness: A critical analysis of seizure semiology

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Abstract

Fyodor Dostoevsky is a great Russian writer who had epilepsy. As a consequence, there are many references to seizure-related phenomena in his work. His epilepsy syndrome has been a focus of debate. The goal of this article is to delineate his epilepsy syndrome based on a semiological description of seizures, which could be considered one of the most reliable pieces of circumstantial evidence available. It was hypothesized that seizure-related descriptions in his books were based on his own personal experience. The semiology of seizures and related phenomena was compiled from Dostoevsky's own work, his letters to family and friends, and reminiscences of his wife and friend. Those descriptions were analyzed in detail to elicit localizing and lateralizing features of seizures. On the basis of this evidence, it was postulated that Dostoevsky had a partial epilepsy syndrome most probably arising from the dominant temporal lobe. 

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-430
Number of pages7
JournalEpilepsy & Behavior
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2010

Keywords

  • Aura
  • Dostoevsky
  • Ecstasy
  • Epilepsy
  • Seizures
  • Semiology

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