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It's just petit mal: she'll grow out of it
  1. Frances Gibbon
  1. Correspondence to Dr Frances Gibbon, Consultant Paediatric Neurologist, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff CF14 4XW, UK; frances.gibbon{at}

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I must have been 7 or 8 years old, playing in the front garden, when I had my first seizure. An intense feeling of familiarity was followed by a rising sensation, an anticipation of pleasure that never came but was gradually replaced by a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, a fear that something bad was going to happen. When I became older, this feeling would try to grip me and pull me away from awareness, away from consciousness.

When I told Dad, he said, “Ah yes; déjà vu!” He seemed more interested than worried. My father was a radiologist who had a tendency to ignore major neurological and psychiatric symptoms in family members, although he was happy enough to irradiate our chests and limbs. Fortunately for me, he decided I had ‘petit mal’ and waited for me to grow out of it.

For a while, I thought they must have stopped, but there were entries in my teenage diaries recording, “Had …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.

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