Partial epilepsy with "ecstatic" seizures

Epilepsy Behav. 2003 Dec;4(6):667-73. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2003.09.009.


Reports focusing on auras of ecstasy or pleasure have been limited largely to single case descriptions. We examined 11 consecutive patients with such ictal symptoms. Eight had sensory hallucinations, four had erotic sensations, five described "a religious/spiritual experience," and several had symptoms that were felt to have no counterpart in human experience. Ictal EEG recordings were performed in four patients; two had seizure onset in the right temporal lobe and two in the left. In seven the onset could not be definitely localized. The diagnosis of epilepsy was often delayed. Eight patients wished to experience seizures; self-induction was possible in five and four showed treatment noncompliance. In patients with insufficient drug intake, in whom good compliance should be expected, it is relevant to consider seizures with pleasant symptomatology. According to the literature, experiential and ecstatic seizures seem to have had a substantial impact on our cultural and religious history.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Electroencephalography / methods
  • Epilepsies, Partial / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsies, Partial / psychology
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / psychology
  • Female
  • Frontal Lobe / pathology
  • Frontal Lobe / physiopathology
  • Functional Laterality
  • Hallucinations
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Seizures / physiopathology*
  • Seizures / psychology
  • Spirituality
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology
  • Temporal Lobe / physiopathology