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Observations placeholder

Trousseau’s Clinical Medicine – A possible case of possession



Type of Spiritual Experience


We believe this is an example of possession not epilepsy.  The man was physically already ill from the viral infection [or allergy] and his wife then further weakened him [maybe subconsciously she knew he was being preyed upon]

A description of the experience

As described in Illustrations Of The Influence Of The Mind Upon The Body In Health And Disease, Designed To Elucidate The Action Of The Imagination - Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.,

SECTION II. — Irregular and Excessive Muscular Contraction : Spasms and Convulsions.

Trousseau records the case of a man, set. 36, who was under his care for epilepsy five years previously. He had been suddenly awakened and frightened in the night "by horrible shrieks from his wife, and a few days afterwards he had his first attack."

He himself, it should be stated, referred the affection to the sudden cessation of chronic coryza [catarrhal inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose, caused especially by a cold or by hay fever], but Trousseau merely speaks of this as " a coincidence."

It will be observed in this case that the patient experienced a sensation of trembling in the pit of the stomach. In another instance the patient's " attacks were ushered in by a sensation of great heat beginning at the navel."

In the beginning, these seizures were characterized by a sensation of inward cold, of rigors, and, to use his own words, of trembling, seated sometimes in the arms, the legs, or thighs, and sometimes in the pit of the stomach, or various parts of the body. This sensation spread all over him, and lasted a few minutes, without being attended with loss of consciousness. The attacks recurred at irregular intervals, rarely longer than four or five days, and were brought on by the slightest painful emotion, the least variation of temperature, a draught of cold air, or exposure to a hot sun.

They were now regular convulsive seizures, similar to those he had on admission. On the day of his admission he had just lain down, when he suddenly got up, taking hold of the bar across his tester-bed, then, throwing his arms about, began to vociferate in the most atrocious manner. His face was of a purple-red colour, his looks haggard, his voice loud, and his articulation rapid. He looked exactly like a delirious maniac. The attack had set in with quivering of the legs, followed by convulsions. He was perfectly unconscious of his acts, and kept insulting those who were attending him.

This fit lasted about twenty minutes, and without any transition he became calm

(Trousseau's Clinical Medicine. Translated for the New Sydenham Society by Dr. Bazire. 4 vols. 1868, I, p. 40).


Trousseau endorses the observation of Jules Falret, that "many persons who have become epileptics after strong moral emotions, or intense terror, see again in spirit or before their eyes, on each succeeding seizure, the painful circumstances or the dreadful scene which first produced their complaint."

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Heat and cold

Activities and commonsteps