9 Myths and Misconceptions about Epilepsy

Epilepsy is one of the world’s oldest diseases but for people with very little knowledge about it as a medical condition, it remains a mystery. There are several myths associated with this ailment which cause people to react oddly making life more miserable for patients with epilepsy. Here is a list of misconceptions and myths regarding this neurologic condition that need to be corrected.


1 Epilepsy is not a Mental Disorder; It is a Neurological Problem

Many people regard epilepsy as a mental disorder and the epileptics as mentally unhinged. The fact is, epilepsy is a neurological problem and seizure, which is the prominent symptom of epilepsy, results from a change in the electrical activity of the brain. Epileptics are as sensible as any other individual except during a seizure attack when the brain loses control over muscle activity for a short duration.

Epilepsy is not a Mental Disorder

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Epileptics are not mentally unhinged

2 Sniffing Onions or Holding Iron Objects do not help during Seizure

People lack knowledge regarding epilepsy as a medical condition. In different regions, there are popular myths that people still follow and believe in. One common myth is that if the sufferer is made to sniff onions, he will recover more quickly. Some people also believe that holding iron objects can prevent a seizure attack. These are all false beliefs and do not hold any sense in reality. People should refrain from making the patient sniff or hold such things. Instead, care should be taken to keep the person safe from objects that may fall on him. The time it takes for the person to recover will depend on the type of seizure attack.

Sniffing Onions or Holding Iron Objects

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Don’t make them sniff onions please!


3 Epileptics Do Not Swallow Their Tongue, Do Not Insert Things Into Their Mouth

Another gross misconception people tend to have about epileptics is that they are likely to swallow their tongue during a severe tonic-clonic seizure. This is not true since it is not humanly possible for anyone to swallow their own tongue. People insert spoons or cloth rolls into the mouths of epileptics during a seizure to prevent it from happening. Inserting things into the mouth of the patient is much more dangerous. The best you can do to help an epileptic during an attack is to stay by his side and protect him from objects that may cause accidents. After the duration of the attack, the patient recovers himself.

Epileptics Do Not Swallow Their Tongue

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Do not insert objects, it is risky!

4 Epileptics are Not Spiritually Possessed

Decades back, epilepsy was referred to as a sacred disease and people suffering from epilepsy were said to possess prophetic powers. This is another blunder that people need to get over with. Epilepsy is a neurological health problem that may be aggravated by triggers like flickering lights, anxiety and lack of sleep. The patients do not possess any supernatural power.

Not Spiritually Possessed

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Epileptics possess no supernatural powers


5 Epilepsy Is Not Always Hereditary

Many people think that epilepsy is solely hereditary. This is not true. There could be many different reasons or causes for epilepsy. It may be a result of sleep deprivation, anxiety and emotional trauma. It could also result from an injury or gliosis of the brain. Every individual is born with a seizure threshold and people who have lower thresholds are more prone to epilepsy.

It is not always in the genes.

Not Always Hereditary

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6 Epileptics Are Not Failures In Their Career

There is a common belief that people who are epileptic can never dream of a bright future and cannot become famous or successful. They are believed to be poor in their studies and to have limited understanding capabilities. This is also a false belief. In fact, you would be stunned to hear the long list of successful people who have had a history of epilepsy. The great writer Dostoevsky and the renowned artist Van Gogh were both epileptics. Julius Caesar, the great ruler who married the beautiful Cleopatra, was also epileptic.

Not Failures In Their Career

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The great writer of ‘Crie and Punishment’ was epileptic.

7 Epilepsy Does Not Spread With Touch

Epilepsy was regarded contagious for a long time. The reason why epileptics were treated in separate asylums is to prevent the ailment from spreading. Actually, epilepsy is not transmitted by touch or by physical contact. A person suffering from seizure disorder has a lower seizure threshold and the triggers easily affect the person prompting an attack.

Does Not Spread With Touch

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It is not contagious

8 Epileptics Are Usually Bad Tempered

Many people in different Indian communities think that people with epilepsy have bad temper. They are believed to not have control over their rage and emotions. Again, this is a false interpretation of the actual facts. Epileptics may suffer from rage episodes if the medicines given to them are too strong and if these drugs have such side effects. Like any other person, they may also lose their temper if they have trouble dealing with people or if they are dealing with the stigma of their health conditions. Both of these are emotional situations that may result in rage and epilepsy is not directly connected with having a bad temper.

Epileptics Are Usually Bad

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Bad temper has nothing to do with epilepsy.

9 All Seizure Attacks are Just Convulsions

There are many people who believe that all epileptic attacks or episodes are the same. This is not the fact. People can suffer from seizure disorders of varying intensity and frequency. They may suffer from partial (focal) seizures where only one part of the body is affected or they may also suffer from severe tonic-clonic seizures affecting the entire body and the duration may vary from a few seconds to nearly 10 minutes.

Seizure Attacks are Just Convulsions

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