Epilepsy is one of the oldest-known medical conditions in man – and one of the least-understood.
In ancient Mesopotamia it led to exorcism, and in many cultures if your slave had epilepsy you could take them back for a refund.10 people you didn’t know had epilepsy
The Babylonians thought epileptics were possessed by the devil, and the Greeks thought they were touched by divine inspiration and it was a sign of genius. Socrates and Julius Caesar were both thought to be affected, although opinion is divided on whether they actually were.
Hippocrates was the first person to realise it was a medical condition based in the brain, 400 years before the birth of Christ. But despite this it was still officially linked to demonic possession until well into the 17th century.
The Queen’s own uncle, Prince John, was confined to a farm at Sandringham after he was born with epilepsy and autism; he died at 13.
Epileptics were often sent to asylums well into the 20th century and a UK law banning the marriage of anyone with epilepsy was only repealed in 1970.
In the USA, epileptics were barred from entering theatres, restaurants and other public buildings into the 1970s.
It’s simply a medical condition which affects the electrical patterns in the brain, causing a lack of consciousness and shaking limbs.
It can be fatal, but 50 million people worldwide live with it – and the stigma still attached to it.
For Epilepsy Awareness Day here are 10 famous faces who’ve all got or had epilepsy – and you might be surprised about who they are…
Former Apprentice candidate Katie Hopkins suffered absence seizures while on parade at military training college Sandhurst and was discharged when the condition was discovered. She now has whole-body seizures which have hospitalised her 26 times in the past year.
Charles Dickens had epilepsy as a child but outgrew it, and drew on his experiences to describe seizures in Our Mutual Friend, Oliver Twist and Bleak House.
When Ida McKinley, first lady of the US from 1897 to 1901, showed signs of having a seizure at the dinner table her husband, President William McKinley, used to put a napkin over her face.
Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover first had seizures as a teenager but has been clear of the condition since he turned 35.
Spandau ballet bassist and actor Martin Kemp developed epilepsy after having two brain tumours removed in the 1990s.
World record breaking athlete Florence Griffith-Joyner developed epilepsy in her 30s and died as the result of a seizure in her sleep in 1998.
Matrix and Lord of the Rings star Hugo Weaving, who played Agent Smith and Elrond in the hit films, was diagnosed at 13.