Epilepsy, behavior, and neuropsychiatry

Andrea E. Cavanna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter, comment/opinion or interviewpeer-review


To the Editor, Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. Bertrand Russell, Autobiography (1956) This year marks the 15th anniversary of a scientific journal which is unique in its field. By bridging the clinical disciplines of neurology and psychiatry, Epilepsy & Behavior encompasses all the multifaceted aspects of epilepsy, ranging from psychosocial aspects to animal models. Among the most important achievements of this publication is its relentless attention to the lives and experiences of patients with epilepsy, as revealed through the lens of its clinical and neurophysiological manifestations. In this sense, the mission of Epilepsy & Behavior echoes Bertrand Russell's inspiring words, which remind us of the ultimate goal of our scientific efforts. As a journal striving to achieve this goal through a multidisciplinary approach, Epilepsy & Behavior serves as a role model for the current renaissance of neuropsychiatry as a clinical discipline [1]. The claim for the need to combine neurological and psychiatric studies in order to pursue a genuinely holistic approach to patients with epilepsy has seen many champions throughout history. One of the unsung heroes of modern neuropsychiatry is Luigi Roncoroni, an Italian scholar who was active between the end of the XIX century and the beginning of the XX century (Head of the Department of Neuropsychiatry at University of Parma from 1907 to 1935). In his 1910 book, titled ‘Introduction to the Clinic of Nervous and Mental Diseases’ [2], Roncoroni put forward a manifesto for the acknowledgment of the indissoluble link between neurology and psychiatry. Roncoroni introduced his textbook (an original treatise on clinical neuropsychiatry ante litteram) with the following observations, which are translated in the English language for the first time for the international readership of Epilepsy & Behavior: ‘The meeting of psychiatry and neuropathology in a unified Clinic with a unified curriculum […] appears to be inspired by highly scientific concepts. The anatomical and physiological basis, aetiology, and semiology are in fact the same for both disciplines. Nervous system pathologies can present with mental disorders of different nature and severity; conversely, a wide range of motor, sensory, and physical alterations can develop in the context of mental disorders. The concept that neurological disorders are associated with lesions in sensori-motor areas and mental disorders are associated with lesions in the associative areas is arbitrary. For instance, hallucinations show that sensory areas are involved in mental disorders, and the very distinction between associative and sensori-motor brain regions is not immune to criticism. Likewise, the size or type of anatomo-pathological lesions is not a sufficient criterion to differentiate between nervous and mental pathologies’. One of Roncoroni's main interests was, in fact, epilepsy. In his 1894 ‘Clinical Treatise on the Epilepsies’ [3], he highlighted the importance of the very same themes that readers can now recognize in the pages of Epilepsy & Behavior: ‘I aimed to achieve this synthesis […] by determining the physiological and psychological mechanisms of the various types of epilepsy […] as well as the functional and behavioural changes in patients with epilepsy. […] I focused on the psychological features of patients with epilepsy, both during and outside seizures […] and I paid special attention to what seems to me to be essential with regard to epilepsy-related issues such as responsibility, law et cetera’. Shining examples from the past shed further light on the present relevance and achievements of Epilepsy & Behavior. Their inspiring words join the editors and the readers in wishing the journal a long and prosperous life: by continuing to promote dialogue between the different disciplines involved in epileptology, this journal will be a driving force to improve the quality of care provided to patients with epilepsy in the years to come. Conflict of interest The author declares that there are no conflicts of interest. References [1] N.M.A. Arambepola, H. Rickards, A.E. Cavanna. The evolving discipline and services of neuropsychiatry in the United Kingdom. Acta Neuropsychiatr, 24 (2012), pp. 191–198 [2] L. Roncoroni. Introduzione alla clinica delle malattie nervose e mentali. UTET (1910) [3] L. Roncoroni. Trattato clinico dell'epilessia con speciale riguardo alle psicosi epilettiche Vallardi (1894)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)78
Number of pages1
JournalEpilepsy and Behavior
Early online date30 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014

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© 2014, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


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