The present bibliographical research "Social interpretations in the Greek civilization
and politics of identity through the history of epilepsy", aims to present thru the history of epilepsy in the Greek civilization, the social interpretations of each synchrony but also the relationship of history with the politics of the certain identity and its evolution.
In this way, it is expected, to show the controversies and to be heard the silences.
Epilepsy, moon strike (seliniasmos), holy disease (iera nosos), Hercules disease (iraklia nosos), demonism, were used in different synchronies but at the same time in the same synchrony, with different or similar interpretations. These terms derived either from what was considered to be the causation of epilepsy (moon strike, holy disease, demonism) or from the relation with a famous person (Hercules disease). Even if the interpretation of epilepsy was changing, its name was not necessarily changing (like for example the use of the term iera-holy-from the Hippocratists). Furthermore is remarked that the terms epilepsy, lunacy and demonism were used from certain people in the same synchrony as synonyms.
There was an effort to reconstruct the identity of epilepsy, not only with the attempt of rationalism, but also with the correlation of epilepsy with persons of social status and fame. Nevertheless, epilepsy can be found in persons with different mental abilities, from very intelligent to persons with mental retardation. Additionally in this enlistment of famous persons with epilepsy, there are many disputes.
The history of epilepsy started many centuries ago. In Ancient Greece, the early theories of the conception of epilepsy, (the occupation by a demon and the godly origin of a disease) coexisted with the interpretation of Hippocratists about epilepsy. At the Christendom, epilepsy was considered demonism and it is described in the Holly Bible as such. Epilepsy was connected in many ways with the religion and religious personalities, like Apostle Paul.
Christianity believes in Saints-hillers of epilepsy, like the Christ himself, Apostle Andreas, Saint Tychon of Amathus and many others. Throughout the medieval time, exorcism was popular in the West. Joan of Arc, who is also considered to suffer from epilepsy, was burned as a heretic. The Enlightenment led through medicine to overcome the religious prejudices but the lack of scientific methodology resulted in the substitution with others (like Tissot’s report).
At the East Roman Empire (Byzantium), although the byzantine doctors were assured that epilepsy was an organic disease, the common belief of the byzantine period, attributed epilepsy in demonic impacts and in holly judgment that followed the human mistakes and sins. Furthermore the terms moon strike, demonism and epilepsy were used as synonyms by many simple Byzantines.
The emperor Ioanis Dukas the third, Batatzis, suffered from epilepsy but he was honored as a Saint. Nowadays there are different attitudes in the group of people with epilepsy, concerning the church, whereas the church tends to distinct demonism from certain cases of pathology.
Throughout all these centuries, different therapeutic practices are used based on the interpretation of each therapist. With the modern era of medicine and epilepsy, begins and the history of pharmaceutical industry for epilepsy. Ketogenic diets are also in use.
Epilepsy includes as identity, the pathology but also and the relevant social construction. Science influences the social interpretations for epilepsy and redeems the patient to a certain point from the symptoms of the pathology. The person is considered as a client that tests the therapies and supports the pharmaceutical industry. Furthermore medicine enlarges the width of the identity with new categories in the pathology of epilepsy.
The way to confront the social stigma is associated with the strengthening of the scientific interpretation of epilepsy, of rationalism, but also with the therapy of the symptoms in a way that it is confined in the private sphere as silence.
Societies are characterized from their disability to accept the different. If the different, fearful or strange has a name, has an ontology, then it can be handled, even if it is called moon struck, Hercules disease or holy disease or demonism or epilepsy or when there is concealment. The persons with epilepsy have the human right to be treated equally without prejudices, independently from the name and the history of epilepsy. But whatever is the social status of epilepsy and the social interpretations in different synchronies, it depends from the certain person, those constructions not to consist a disadvantaged identity.