Hippocrates' Influence on the Origins of Neurosurgery

Anna Chang, BS; Eleonora M. Lad, MD, PhD; Shivanand P. Lad, MD, PhD


Neurosurg Focus. 2007;23(1):E9 

In This Article

Understanding Brain Function and Epilepsy

Hippocrates had a thorough understanding of the human body and, in particular, the brain. He believed that the body must be treated as a whole and not just a series of parts. He was the first physician to assert that thoughts, ideas, and feelings come from the brain and not the heart as others of his time believed. He recognized that the brain was involved in sensation and was the center of intelligence.

He accurately described disease symptoms and was the first physician to accurately note the symptoms of epilepsy in children. He wrote the first book on epilepsy, On the Sacred Disease.[11] Refuting the idea that epilepsy is a curse or a prophetic power, as was previously believed, Hippocrates states that it's a brain disorder. "It is thus with regard to the disease called Sacred: it appears to me to be nowise more divine nor more sacred than other diseases, but has a natural cause like other affections."[11]


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