Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Rabies, Epilepsy, Fear and Fury:

This authors comments are in square parenthesis [ ].

From Otto Weininger:
'Rabies is a very interesting phenomenon, perhaps related to epilepsy, in which humans likewise foam at the mouth. Both are promoted by heat.'

From the IBM World Book 2000; sections from the 'Rabies' entry [This authors comments are in angular parentheses]:
The word rabies is Latin for rage or fury.

Because one of the symptoms of rabies is an inability to swallow water, the disease is sometimes called hydrophobia, which means fear of water.
[Water of life?  The worm, that shall not be quenched?  The image of hell as a place of fire and torment is common in Western culture.  It may be an inheritance from an existing culture, such as Egypt, which has then undergone modification, think of Chinese Whispers, and how a saying changes the further along the chain of people it moves.  Nevertheless, it is an interesting point that rage is associated with fire, heat, and absent-minded aggression (as distinct from clear headed aggression); and is totally opposed to thought and water, so much so that it drives away water as well as the ability to think.]

Among the first symptoms are pain, burning, or numbness at the site of the infection.

Symptoms in animals.  The development of rabies in animals follows the same pattern as in people.  During the period of excitation, the animal may wander great distances.  It vocalizes almost constantly, often becomes aggressive, and will attack without reason.  The disease then usually progresses to paralysis of the jaw and throat muscles, followed by general paralysis and death.  Some animals with rabies never show signs of excitation but only of paralysis.  Some animals that recover from rabies continue to carry and spread the virus for a time.

From the IBM World Book 2000; sections from the 'Epilepsy' entry:
Epilepsy is any one of a group of disorders of brain function characterised by sudden, recurrent attacks.  Normally, the brain cells produce some electrical energy which flows through the nervous system and activates the muscles.  The brain of an epileptic patient sometimes fails to limit or to control this release of energy.  An attack of epilepsy, called an epileptic seizure, occurs when these cells suddenly release a large burst of electrical energy.  There are three chief types of epileptic seizures: (1) grand mal, (2) petit mal, and (3) psychomotor. 

In a grand mal seizure, the most dramatic type of epileptic seizure, the patient suddenly loses consciousness.  The person falls unless he or she is supported, and the muscles jerk.  Most grand mal seizures last a few minutes, after which the patient goes into a deep sleep. 
[A rage that is equivalent, or related to Rabies, in as much as the muscles are caused to tense up excessively and uncontrollably.  It may be that Epilepsy manifests itself different to Rabies because humans are naturally less aggressive than most mammals such as dogs and bats, who have viscous teeth and claws that are designed for attacking and maiming.]

During a petit mal episode, the patient has a blank look and loses awareness of his or her surroundings for some seconds.  The patient may appear confused but does not fall.  Many of these episodes are not even noticed.  Most petit mal seizures occur in children. 
[Semi retreat from the world.]

In a psychomotor seizure, the patient acts withdrawn and behaves strangely for a few minutes.  The patient may suddenly roam around the room or tug at his or her clothes.
[Effectively this is apathy, passionlessness.]

My own thoughts:
The Wikipedia article on Schizophrenia states that Epilepsy is more common in people who suffer from the condition than the normal population.  This could be related to the 'psychomotor seizure' type of epilepsy. whereby the individual is confronted by something that is beyond their control, or obstructs their natural energy or freedom of expression, and thus are unable to express themselves.  When the individual is confronted with type of situation, they have three options: rage against the blockage in an attempt to destroy it; revert into introspection in a bid to understand the blockage; or retreat into apathy, give up, lose hope, admit defeat and throw in the towel.  It may thus be possible that epilepsy and schizophrenia (and related conditions), are one of the three main groups of mental afflictions that prevent people from expressing themselves, their natural intention, to the fullest.  The other two groups of conditions would be introversion (self examination, and obstruction examination) related, and aggression (destroy the object or die trying) related.

If these relate to the notion of 'hell' I don't know.  Possibly Hell, as traditionally viewed,  is just one of the three dominant torments that attack mankind, and prevent him from expressing himself to his fullest (possibly as God intended).  The others being excess introversion (for want of a better term), and apathy.  However, this is only a brief overview, that is entirely dependent on the works of others, thus they may have failed to identify further groups (of epileptic seizure types) or mixed two or more different groups together.

On a final note, Weininger, in Sex and Character, notes that famous epileptics included Julius Caesar, Martin Luther, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Muhammad (the prophet/founder of Islam).  It would be interesting to see who the famous epileptics were throughout history simply to see whether they had any common characteristics amongst them.  Possibly their characters may relate to the 'grand mal' type of seizure, depending on how the people of the time classed/viewed/identified epilepsy, which would be correlated with rage/fury and the desire to destroy the obstruction in their path.

Latter Addition:
I've just read the Wikipedia entry on epilepsy.  Just two initial thoughts: Firstly, the seizure types are loosely based on a matrix of two variables (mind/brain and body), each of which can exist in two states (either rigid/tonic or flaccid/atonic).  This may correlate to my former speculation that a seizure could be related or caused by an overbearing outside stimulant that the soul finds unbearable e.g. flashing lights (for eyes), emotional stress (for the 'heart'), drug/alcohol stress (for the body/neural network).  Thus one of the methods for classing seizures could be in terms of the type of seizures, instead of what provokes it:

Mental seizure only: rigid or flaccid.
Physical seizure only: rigid or flaccid.
Mental and physical seizure: rigid mind, rigid body.
Mental and physical seizure: rigid mind, flaccid body.
Mental and physical seizure: flaccid mind, flaccid body.
Mental and physical seizure: flaccid mind, rigid body.

As well as spatial (in this regards, the body) variances, there are also temporal variances.  For instance a seizure may be physically rigid one moment, and flaccid the next, then rigid again, and so on.  This could be comparable to what are called 'clonic' seizures, i.e. ones that fluctuate/oscillate between rigid and flaccid.  These osscilations, as with time itself, may occur more rapidly or less rapidly, depending on the seizure type.  There may also be increases or decreases in rapidity/speed within one seizure, or from one seizure relative to another.  Though having not read any more on this I cannot say.

Of course, the people experiencing these seizures probably do not fall into fixed categories, and may well experience different types from one day to the next, from one seizure to the next or one second to the next.

My second thought is on the comment that epilepsy is the most common mental malady of dogs.  Not cats or other domesticated animals, but dogs.  Why?  Because dogs are subjected to more laws (externally imposed) than cats.  Dogs are not given free reign to run off in the garden, over the wall and do as they please; they are told what to eat, when to sit, when to lay down, and when to defecate.  There world is one of ever imposed laws, so it's no wonder that they react in the way they do, with increased levels of epilepsy.  Even cattle are not subjected to such externally imposing laws as dogs.  Perhaps we, collectively, should give them more freedom than they currently experience.  Should we do so, then in all probability, the numbers of dogs experiencing epilepsy would go down.  Furthermore, it may be true that the more a creature (be it plant, animal or human) is domesticated beyond it's natural state (its personal will) then the higher the possibility of psychical (for want of a better word) maladies will affect it.  Such as epilepsy, sociopathology, psychopathology.  All creatures should be permitted to express their will.  Should they be excessively oppressed, it will be detrimental to their soul, and thus they will react with either fight, flight or apathy from the given situation/environment.

As regarding treatment, as the seizures are the result of an individual who has experienced something (be it physical or emotional or something else) that they find unbearable, it may be advisable to increase the persons exposure to that particular stimulant in very small, but slightly increasing doses, over a period of time.  Much as with dealing with phobias: arachnophobia may be treated by the person first looking at a spider at a great distance (for a short period of time), and then reducing that distance over a period of time, relative to whatever the individual can cope with, until finally they experience the phobia no more.  However, as with all people, the tolerances may be very low, thus the epileptic person may remain very sensitive to such stimulants, and so such a remedy would not work.  Thus, in that instance, the only other remedy would be a coping mechanism, designed to abate the effects of the seizure.  These could be either mental (e.g. cognitive self-psychotherapy), physical (e.g. sunglasses for flashing light based seizures), or mental-physical (e.g. drug treatment).  These are only my initial thoughts on the subject.

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