Epigraph Vol. 8 Issue 1, 2006 Web

Episcope, A Historical Note

Episcope, A Historical Note, is a new feature which will appear in each issue of Epigraph. Each article will feature a paper of historical interest published in Epilepsia since its inception in 1909. The Episcope feature aims to provide a brief context to the article and its author, and will be linked (by a simple click of a mouse) to the full text of the paper which is freely accessible online. In this way, we hope to encourage readers to read the original papers, and to learn more about the contribution of ILAE to epilepsy. In this issue, we choose an article published in 1938:  

LJJ Muskens. A short history of the first period of activity of the International League Against Epilepsy. Epilepsia 1938 2nd series – vol 1 p82-87

This article was chosen to initiate Episcope, as it is itself a retroscopic view of the activities in the International League Against Epilepsy in its first period from 1909 to 1914. In 1909 the League was founded in an atmosphere of optimism, and with a vision which has remained essentially unchanged to this day. As A Marie, the first ILAE president wrote in the first edition of Epilepsia“ .. le programme est vaste et grandiose, bien susceptible de passionner les philanthropes et les savants de tous pays.”. The main activities of the league were the publication of Epilepsia and the organisation of annual or biannual conferences. However, the coming of war in 1914 resulted in the abrupt termination of ILAE activity and the cessation of Epilepsia which went into hibernation until 1938. The premature termination of this phase of the development of Epilepsia was a calamity for science and epilepsy, and the article briefly describes the history of the ILAE during this period.

LJJ Musken’s from Amsterdam was an indefatigable worker for the ILAE in this first period and the first editor of Epilepsia. He was a distinguished epileptologist, who laid the foundations for the study of epilepsy in Holland which has remained at the forefront of Dutch neurology to this day. His book ‘EPILEPSY’ remains a classic of its day (LJJ Muskens. Epilepsy (English edition, with preface by CS Sherrington). Ballière London 1928). This article was the last he wrote, and was published shortly after his death.