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BrainWaves #133 The sacred disease

MedLink Neurology Podcast is delighted to feature selected episodes from BrainWaves, courtesy of James E Siegler MD, its originator and host. BrainWaves is an academic audio podcast whose mission is to educate medical providers through clinical cases and topical reviews in neurology, medicine, and the humanities, and episodes originally aired from 2016 to 2021.

Originally released: March 7, 2019

Before it was called epilepsy, it was a falling sickness. A disturbance of consciousness summoned by magic or demonic possession. Although it is less of a mystery today, the sacred disease is one neurologic condition that continues to pique our curiosity. Join us as we recount the fascinating history of this mystical malady.

Produced by James E Siegler. Music courtesy of Alavedra Montserrat, Joseph Levine, and William McColl, Damiano Baldoni, Kai Engel, Kevin McLeod, Rafael Archangel, and Unheard Music Concepts. Sound effects by Mike Koenig and Daniel Simion. BrainWaves' podcasts and online content are intended for medical education only and should not be used for clinical decision-making. Be sure to follow us on Twitter @brainwavesaudio for the latest updates to the podcast.


Pierce JM. Disease Once Sacred: A history of the medical understanding of epilepsy. Brain 2002;125:441-2.

Temkin O. The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy from the Greeks to the Beginnings of Modern Neurology. 2nd ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971.

We believe that the principles expressed or implied in the podcast remain valid, but certain details may be superseded by evolving knowledge since the episode’s original release date.

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