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An email came in as I was writing a blog entry on research on whether music and the spoken word help with pain relief.

The email contained a link to an article on King Tut in New Scientist. The article apparently was the same, or similar, to one carried by a lot of news outlets around the world, such as Time, Huffington Post, Egypt News, and India TV News. Seems a British surgeon believes King Tut inherited TLE from his biological father, Akhenaten, the pharaoh who believed in one god and paid the price for his revolutionary idea.

OK, we know that many people in the ancient world were documented as having partial seizures and possibly TLE, like Julius Caesar and Alexander. Epilepsy was viewed differently then. And, we know that if someone had an unusual experience or encounter with God, such as St. Paul or Moses, people tend to write off the experiences as hallucinations and visions resulting from TLE. University of California researchers even claimed to have found the God Spot in the brain.

As far as I am concerned, people can decide for themselves what they believe is possible. For the record, I don’t believe every encounter with God is the result of TLE, and I don’t believe TLE prevents those of us with the condition from having valid religious experiences.

The reference to TLE causing the religious revolution of Akhenaten is not what concerns me, but rather the way the media played it up: “Did King Tut Die of a Disease that Gave Him Breasts?”  Well, that’s pretty easy to figure out. The idea of breasts on men is more titillating (so to speak) than some ancient dead king believing in one god. It’s also wrong, degrading, and an insult to all of us with TLE. I almost threw up at the incredibly horrible assumption that was being put together by this so-called British surgeon.

But, the media were just playing along with the public-relations scheme by New Scientist to drive readers to their site. Oh, did I forget to mention that New Scientist is the same publication that reported in 2010 that researchers were convinced King Tut died of sickle-cell anemia?

To its credit New Scientist quoted Dr. Orrin Devinsky, probably the most respected neurologist dealing with epilepsy in the United States, and the director of New York University’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.  Toward the end of the story, for those who managed to slog that far, Devinsky said, “the exact timing of Akhenaten’s religious conviction is not so clearly documented, and most cases of sudden religious conversion are not due to epilepsy.”

He went on to say that “Monotheism could be related to epilepsy, or bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, or drug intoxication from a fungus – but this paper does not sway me to any of these options.” He didn’t address the ‘breast issue”. Maybe he wasn’t asked, or maybe he didn’t want to dignify the absurdity with a response.

This last thing seems to fit with another statement Dr. Devinsky gave The New York Times in an article about Temporal Lobe Epilepsy and Easing the Seizures:

“There is an ongoing, significant embarrassment level about it. The feeling, for a lot of people, is that it does carry a lot worse stigma than a cancer, or an H.I.V. even. At some level, it’s society that needs to wake up and realize it’s just another neurologic disorder.”

New Scientist www.newscientist.com/article/mg21528812.400-tutankhamuns-death-and-the-birth-of-monotheism.html

Huffington Post www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/king-tuts-death-new-theory_n_1877713.html

Egypt News www.egyptnews.net/index.php?sid/209148701/scat/d7006824400aaac1

India TV News http://www.indiatvnews.com/news/world/did-king-tut-die-of-disease-that-gave-him-breasts-8857.html

Time http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/09/13/did-king-tutankhamen-die-from-epilepsy

The Independent www.independent.co.uk/news/science/belief-and-the-brains-god-spot-1641022.html

New Science sickle-cell www.newscientist.com/article/dn19094-tutankhamen-killed-by-sicklecell-disease.html

Orrin Devinksy, M.D. http://epilepsy.med.nyu.edu/orrin-devinsky-md

The New York Times www.nytimes.com/ref/health/healthguide/esn-epilepsy-ess.html

Epilepsy Therapy Project http://www.epilepsy.com/epilepsy/famous_leaders

NCBI http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1032067/

NYU http://epilepsy.med.nyu.edu/

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