"Norman Geschwind: influence on his career and comments on his course on the neurology of behavior" [Comment]
Epilepsy & behavior 2009 Aug; 15(4):413-416
- Norman Geschwind (1926-1984) was a critical force in the emergence of behavioral neurology and neuropsychology as important disciplines in the 1960s and 1970s. Factors that influenced his early career are described, with extensive quotes from a document that Geschwind wrote in 1982, supplemented by interviews with his childhood friends, colleagues from his early career, and his daughter. He entered Harvard College as a math major, but became interested in psychology when he served in the Army infantry in World War II and observed soldiers who acted irrationally in combat. Returning to undergraduate studies, he was taught that knowledge of the brain would shed little light on behavior. His interest in behavioral neurology began with his medical student courses in physiology and neuroanatomy, where he first learned about epilepsy and aphasia. He then trained for 2 years at Queen Square, where his research focused on periodic paralysis, but was greatly influenced by the writings of Hughlings Jackson and Charles Bastian and the teachings of Sir Charles Symonds. Returning to Boston, Geschwind became Dr. Denny-Brown's Chief Resident at the Neurologic Unit of Boston City Hospital. Another unrecognized source of Norman Geschwind's intellectual legacy is the unpublished course he taught on The Neurology of Behavior at Harvard Medical School in the 1970s and 1980s. These lectures were an opportunity for Geschwind to formulate, share, and refine his ideas on behavioral neurology to an eclectic mixture of Boston academics, from linguists, philosophers, and anthropologists to physiologists and psychiatrists. From tape recordings of the Spring 1974 course, 10 lectures were transcribed. One of these slightly edited lectures, 'Personality Changes in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy,' is reproduced in this issue of Epilepsy & Behavior
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