Definitions from Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition and Ballentine's Law Dictionary as are available for each term in each dictionary.
  • Black's Law Dictionary: 2nd Edition

    In medical Jurisprudence. A disease of the brain, which occurs in paroxysms with uncertain intervals between them. The disease is generally organic, though it may be functional and symptomatic of irritation in other parts of the body. The attack is characterized by loss of consciousness, sudden failing down, distortion of the eyes and face, grinding or gnashing of the teeth, stertorous respiration, and more or less severe muscular spasms or convulsions. Epilepsy, though a disease of the brain, is not to be regarded as a form of insanity, in the sense that a person thus afflicted can be said to be permanently insane, for there may be little or no mental aberration in the intervals between the attacks. But the paroxysm is frequently followed by a temporary insanity, varying in particular instances from slight alienation to the most violent mania. In the latter form the affection is known as "epileptic fury." But this generally passes off within a few days. But the course of the principal disease is generally one of deterioration, the brain being gradually more and more deranged in its functions in the intervals of attack, and the memory and intellectual powers in general becoming enfeebled, leading to a greatly impaired state of mental efficiency, or to dementia, or a condition bordering on imbecility. See Aurentz v. Anderson, 3 Pittsb. R. (Pail 310; Lawton v. Sun Mutual Ins. Co., 2 Cush. (Mass.) 517.
    —Hystero-epilepsy. A condition initiated by an apparently mild attack of convulsive hysteria, followed by an epileptiform convulsion, and succeeded by a period of "clownism" (Osier) in which the patient assumes a remarkable series of droll contortions or cataleptic poses, sometimes simulating attitudes expressive of various passions, as, fear, joy, erotism, etc. The final stage is oue of delirium with unusual hallucinations. The attack differs from true epilepsy in that the convulsions may continue without serious result for several successive days, while true epilepsy, if persistent, is always serious, associated with fever, and frequently fatal.