Book review: ‘The End of Epilepsy?’ by Dieter Schmidt & Simon Shorvon

A history of the modern era of epilepsy 1860–2010.

‘The End of Epilepsy?’ by Dieter Schmidt & Simon Shorvon

Don’t be misled by the click-baitey title. This book touches only briefly on the likelihood of a future cure for epilepsy. Its subtitle is a far more accurate description. This is a historical study of the treatment and social impact of epilepsy over the last 150 years.

Schmidt and Shorvon are expert neurologists. They describe how our understanding and treatment of epilepsy has advanced sporadically over the years, while sometimes being diverted down blind alleys. They are admirably sceptical of the claimed increased benefits of modern ‘block-buster’ (i.e. lucrative) drugs over longer-established alternatives, and explain very well how identifying the right drug for a particular individual can be such a long and frustrating process.

Despite the general gloomy prognosis, Schmidt and Shorvon are careful to emphasise the improvements that have taken place over the years, especially with regard to how society as a whole treats people with epilepsy.

An interesting but sombre read.


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