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Abstract Details

The Neurology in Shakespeare
History of Neurology
P10 - Poster Session 10 (8:00 AM-9:00 AM)
My presentation  I submit for the April 2022 meeting is  based on studying all 37 plays and poetry. It  won the AAN History Prize 34 years ago (1988).

PowerPoint (45 minutes) highlights and teaches Shakespeare’s neurological observations 4 centuries ago. Epilepsy (partial complex): in Othello (Iago says “…don’t touch him…he’ll break out into savage madness..” At play's conclusion Desdamona says "I fear thee when thy eyes roll..." as Othello strangles wife. If her words were overheard his 21st century lawyer would defend, "My epileptic client is not responsible; he was unaware..."and Caesar; Stroke/TIA in Henry IV (“…his highness…fallen into apoplexy, a kind of sleeping in the blood…tingling” indicative of carotid disease); Syphilitic lesions (gumma erosion through hard palate resulting in “speaking with bagpipes in the nose;” tabes dorsalis causing impotence/incontinence ("…quell the source of erection…unable to contain urine…”); Timon tells prostitutes to give disease to crack lawyers’ voice…” suggesting left recurrent laryngeal nerve crush by luetic aortic aneurysm). Hepatic cirrhotic encephalopathy in 12th Night: Toby Belch says, “…If Aguecheeks’ liver contains as much blood...as would clog foot of a flea…and Aguecheek responds “…I am a great eater of beef…harms my wit.” Dementia and delirium in many characters: Lear visually hallucinates daughters in his senium compatible with organic rather than functional dysfunction as hearing voices. Henry V, "Old men forget; Jacques says, "When the age is in the wit is out..." Sleep stages: Lady Macbeth walks and talks in sleep more compatible with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder rather than somnambulism stage 4 sleep. Many other signs and symptoms in the canon.

PowerPoint illustrations accompany my discussion
Over 25 different neurological disease symptoms and signs are discussed.
In the 16th and 17th centuries William Shakespeare faultlessly described neurological phenomena lacking full understanding the etiologies and mechanisms of the lesions and diseases observed.
Lance Fogan, MD, FAAN
Dr. Fogan has nothing to disclose.