Front Page Titles (by Subject) OF EPILEPSY. - The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen
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OF EPILEPSY. - Hippocrates, The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen 
The Writings of Hippocrates and Galen. Epitomised from the Original Latin translations, by John Redman Coxe (Philadelphia: Lindsay and Blakiston, 1846).
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Haller considers this treatise as differing greatly from the genius of Hippocrates, being chiefly speculative. The reader is fatigued by the attempt to demonstrate that epilepsy does not originate from the anger of the gods, but from humidity of the brain. It might, he thinks, be regarded of a later period, because in the comparison drawn between the human brain and that of animals, a less degree of anatomical information is conspicuous; whilst the nature of the disease is apparently deduced from experiments of incising the brains of sheep and goats. A tolerable description of the veins is given. That system seems to be adopted, which derives diseases from pituita and bile. The position is assumed, that air finds a passage to the brain. The diction is diffuse, and Asiatic. The treatise is incidentally noticed by Cœlius and other ancient authors.
This is an admirable treatise, the remarks of Haller, to the contrary, notwithstanding. If, in every theory advanced, it be absolutely requisite that the premises be admitted on which some towering superstructure is erected, we may affirm, that admitting those of the present book, its superstructure is as admirably constructed as that of any theory of the present day, on this or any other subject. The irony of the author is highly amusing, and his respect for religion is not less exemplary.
Pursuing the plan of the preceding books, we give a concise outline of the various parts, premising that the treatise contains the description of the epilepsy, or morbus sacer—its name, nature, subjects, seat, causes, attack, symptoms, signs, treatment; and proposes sundry problems respecting it.—Ed.
Epilepsy is a natural disease, and has in it nothing more sacred or divine than any other. Its name originated as much from ignorance and astonishment, as from the fictitious piety of philosophers, priests, quacks, and jugglers. Here follow some sharp and sarcastic remarks, on the accredited superstition of the times in relation to the disease. Somnambulism, the nightmare, and other affections, are not less astonishing than epilepsy. Ignorance clothed itself in the mantle of religion, which was chosen as a mark of separation from the general community, and the people were deluded by a host of knaves, who endeavoured to persuade them that they held communion with heaven, and were better informed than mankind at large. Unable to prescribe usefully for this complaint, they asserted its sacred origin, and made its cure to depend on purifications and expiations, together with the interdiction of sundry kinds of food, both animal and vegetable. The patient was clothed in black, the colour of mourning; and strict regulations were given even for the manner and position in sleeping. If the sick recovered, they claimed the credit, and lost none if he died. If the cure depends on such observances, the disease, says Hippocrates, cannot be divine, nor does he imagine it was really so regarded by these quacks themselves, who seek only to deceive, by giving out for truth, what they had no knowledge of; and their pretended piety was the mere mask of religion, by which the power of divinity was made subordinate to the will of man! The deities to whom the disease was attributed, are stated as Cybele, Neptune, Proserpine, Apollo, Mars, and Hecate; and which of these was the source, is pointed out by certain accompanying signs,—all which, and the treatment for, are duly reprehended. Quackery seems indeed to have been equally successful in Greece, at the distant era of Hippocrates, as at any since he flourished!
The origin or rise of epilepsy is next considered, its natural explanation and its causes assigned, without referring it to heaven. Its causes are similar to those of other diseases. Hereditary at times, it is connected with pituita rather than bile, and is dependent on a peculiar constitution of the brain. A general outline of that organ is presented, its vascular distribution, and its torpor at times by the air or circulating flatus being impeded in its passage, and producing undue pressure on a part. The doctrine of the preceding treatise is consequently here advocated, and its influence in epilepsy is fully explained. Epilepsy, we are informed, attacks the fœtus (in utero, both healthy and unhealthy), if its brain be not properly emulged, and which thus becomes choked up by pituita, by which the regular play of air is precluded, followed by retardation of the blood, &c.,—of all which the symptoms are enumerated and explained, and also at a posterior period of infancy; in all which the air or flatus is seen to bear a principal and energetic part. Its effects in infancy; and why more common and fatal at that period. If they survive, the effects it leaves. Its effects in adolescence, manhood, old age, &c., severally explained. It is said not to attack after twenty years of age, unless in such as had it in infancy. Some animals, as goats, subject to the disease. Inveterate epilepsy absolutely incurable. An attack of epilepsy often foreseen by the patient. Influence of certain winds in producing it. The brain is the seat of all mental affections. The functions of that organ at times sound, at others depraved. Some remarks on mania. External effects produced by the operation of the mind in dreams. Of the vast empire of the brain in man; how it is operated on by the air. The diaphragm is not the seat of sentiment or intelligence—the name is therefore inappropriate;—nor is the heart the seat. The vessels of all the body go to the heart, and have a connexion with it so remarkable, that if any part suffers, that organ feels it. Some general remarks follow in conclusion, on the nature of epilepsy, and as showing that it has no more a divine origin, than any other disease, but is produced by similar causes; and that in its treatment, attention is to be paid to circumstances, without any reference to lustrations, purifications, or witchcraft. The following expression, towards the conclusion, may perhaps be deemed the prototype of Homœopathic views, “Et plærique ab iisdem, à quibus oriuntur, sanantur,” and is respectfully recommended to the consideration of that sect, and of Hahnemann in particular.
ON A HEALTHY DIET.
The ancients, says Haller, united this with the treatise “De Natura Hominis.” To me, it appears more connected with the third book of the treatise on diet, from which much is transcribed here and there, and other matter more extensively treated of; as, for example, the reasons for dietetic vomition.
The argument of the book is the pointing out the proper use of food, as instituted from the various circumstances of time, habit of body, age, affections, sex, and custom. It is divided into three chapters by Haller.
Chap. I. Of the rules of diet in respect to different seasons of the year and age of life. Of exercise, and bathing, &c.
Chap. II. Of the measures to induce corpulency or leanness. How and when to administer vomits.
Chap. III. Of various exercises; which, when, and for what reasons, best.
Gardeil considers the next treatise on regimen as a continuation of the present, although it is probable they are the production of two different authors. He divides this under fourteen paragraphs.
Sec. I. to IV. Of the diet or regimen for winter, spring, summer, and autumn.
Sec. V. Of diet in respect to age and temperament.
Sec. VI. General principles respecting diet.
Sec. VII. On the use of emetics, glysters, &c.; when to be employed.
Sec. VIII., IX. General principles of regimen for children; for women.
Sec. X. Of gymnastic exercises, and of a fit regimen therefor.
Sec. XI., XII., XIII. Regimen required in some particular cases.
Sec. XIV. General maxim concerning dietetics.