Joan of Arc was an uneducated farmer's daughter in a remote village of medieval France who altered the course of history through her amazing military victories. From age thirteen Joan reported ecstatic moments in which she saw flashes of light coming from the side, heard voices of saints and saw visions of angels.
In the opinion of the neurologist Dr. Lydia Bayne, Joan's blissful experiences ""in which she felt that the secrets of the universe were about to be revealed to her""- were seizures, and they were triggered by the ringing of church bells. Joan displayed symptoms of a temporal lobe focus epilepsy: specifically, a musicogenic form of reflex epilepsy with an ecstatic aura. Musicogenic epilepsy is generally triggered by particular music which has an emotional significance to the individual. Joan's voices and visions propelled her to become an heroic soldier in the effort to save France from English domination and led to her martyrdom in 1431, burned at the stake as a heretic when she was 19 years old.""
Adapted with permission from Epilepsy Toronto
Topic Editor: Steven C. Schachter, M.D.
Elizabeth Foote-Smith 2 Lydia Bayne: Department of Neurology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, U.S.A., Correspondence to 2 2635 Regent St., Berkeley, CA 94704, U.S.A., Copyright 1991 International League Against Epilepsy