Despite the fact that Epilepsy is one of the most common brain disorders, it is widely stigmatized. Psychologists say the stigma can be even worse than the seizures themselves.
Worldwide more than 60 million people are affected by Epilepsy. Most forms of epilepsy can be treated very effectively. However, patients are suffering from being misunderstood, they feel stigmatized and socially isolated. The stigma frequently causes anxiety and depression.
Why is the stigma of epilepsy still so prevalent?
Evidence of misconception of epilepsy can already be found in historical documents dated 1750 BC (Hammurabi Code). In history, epilepsy frequently was wrongly associated with being possessed by demons, the devil or other spirits. Despite the fact that all these myths are completely nonsense, still today people are scared of patients suffering from epilepsy.
Most epileptic attacks are rather not impressive or even silent. However, a grand mal seizure may be an impressive event. Most people are scared of it and they don’t know how to react due to lacking knowledge. Fear and lacking knowledge are the main reasons for stigmata.
What can we do?
Destroy the stigma by raising awareness and sharing knowledge. Celebrities do have a major impact on society and we saw in the past how the conception of certain diseases could change due to the work of those influencers.
Paula Hayes is a famous New York artist (Museum of Modern Art in New York City). After decades of suffering from epilepsy and stigma, she made the brave step of opening up and speaking about her condition in public.
“This is my first public statement about it. Not talking about it feels unhealthy and adds a layer of sadness.” She says in an interview with the American Academy of Neurology. Read the full interview here
Have a look at Paula Hayes fantastic art work here
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Epilepsy, Convulsions, seizures or fits are some of the most common neurologic disorders, with an annual incidence of 35 to 52 cases per 100,000 persons. It is a central nervous system disorder that affects the nerve cell activity in the brain characterized by the presence of recurrent, unprovoked seizures.