SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • History of medicine;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Temporal lobe;
  • Joan of Arc

Summary: For centuries, romantics have praised and historians and scientists debated the mystery of Joan of Arc's exceptional achievements. How could an uneducated farmer's daughter, raised in harsh isolation in a remote village in medieval France, have found the strength and resolution to alter the course of history? Hypotheses have ranged from miraculous intervention to creative psychopathy. We suggest, based on her own words and the contemporary descriptions of observers, that the source of her visions and convictions was in part ecstatic epileptic auras and that she joins the host of creative religious thinkers suspected or known to have epilepsy, from St. Paul and Mohammed to Dostoevsky, who have changed western civilization.