The Symbolism of Epilepsy
Karlheinz Geier
Drawing, 1983

private property

The Symbolism of Epilepsy

Museo alemán de epilepsia en Kork

From early times, human beings have attempted to portray things that are inconceivable, incomprehensible, inexplicable, abstract, using signs, symbols and metaphors, and the symbolism of epilepsy has played a significant role throughout the centuries.

The often dramatic manifestation of this disease, the mostly futile attempts to treat the illness in earlier centuries, the effects on the psychological and social situation of epileptic people and their families, and the unrealistic and superstitious ideas about the causes of the disease which developed in the different ages, have always led people to portray the "theme" epilepsy in metaphors and symbols.

In this drawing, epilepsy is represented as a high, dangerous, insurmountable mountain range which bars the way (of life) of the person with epilepsy. Ravens, the symbol of the devil, of evil spirits and disease-bringing demons, fly round the mountains.