Transpersonal Psycheidetic Seizure Disorder
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Transpersonal Psycheidetic Seizure Disorder, also called Psycheidetic Epilepsy or Mirror Neuron Epilepsy is a variety of epilepsy characterized by frequent pseudo tonic-clonic seizures originating in the premotor cortex and inferior parietal cortex, areas of the brain thought to contain the neuronal assemblies that give rise to mirror neuron activity in humans.
This diagnosis is controversial because the first descriptions of the disease by Kyojio Niide stated that the seizures were caused by the entire consciousness of another person (the co-patient) transiently superimposing itself on the patient. Niide rejected any paranormal explanation for the condition, even coining the term psycheidetic to separate it from such associations. Despite that, his insistence that the neural events of a pseudo tonic-clonic seizure were disruptions of the patient's consciousness by neural events identical to the co-patient's consciousness caused the diagnosis to be met with skepticism and derision. As the incidence of pseudo tonic-clonic seizures increased, however, Niide's terminology came into general use, even among neurologists who rejected Niide's analysis of neural activity during a seizure. Other neurologists, including many who originally rejected Niide's analysis, have since taken the position that the condition is proof of the existence of Psi abilities in humans.
Niide remains faithful to his original position: Psi abilities do not exist, and any experience of another's consciousness is symptomatic of profound neurological dysfunction (Niide's hypothesis). This has led to further controversies over the prognosis and treament of the condition.
The etiology of Psycheidetic Epilepsy is unknown. Niide has conjectured that it is an acquired disorder of the mirror neuron system, but no more than that.
Treatment is symptomatic, therefore aimed at suppressing seizures. Patient contact with the co-patient must be immediately curtailed and a regime of medications used to suppress seizures activity.
The general prognosis for patients who present with pseudo tonic-clonic seizures in adolescence is quite poor. Less than 5% of patients survive more than two years after the initial diagnosis. Death usually occurs as a consequence of drug resistant convulsive status epilepticus.
The initial seizures of psycheidetic epilepsy have proven to be refractory to all anticonvulsant drugs other than barbiturates. The bleak prognosis for the disease is exacerbated by the possibility of barbiturate dependence in the early stages of treatment.
Consequences of Niide's Hypothesis for Treatment Research
On Niide's view, any experience of another individual's subjective states must necessarily disrupt the consciousness of the individual sharing them:
It is possible that I may only experience someone else's subjectivity as a hallucination or delusion; that is, my perception of the actual object of my vision may be occluded by the actual object of some other person's object of vision, or it may be interrupted by that object, or I may be possessed by the belief that I am in the physical location occupied by the other person. But just as I only experience aspects of the object of my own consciousness indirectly, so the aspects of the other person's object of consciousness will come to me indirectly—but this only after first apprehending their consciousness as an interruption or intrusion upon my consciousness, and this is the essential, distinct feature of a telepathic event. [. . .] The question of the possibility of telepathy aside, there can be no question that if people did have such experiences, they would certainly be undesirable and perhaps even unendurable. The most favorable possibilities for telepathic events are already extremely disquieting ones, and we have no warrant to believe that they would be restricted to their most “benign” form.
Niide therefore regards any treatment research aimed at harnessing or refining psycheidetic sensitivity as misguided. A successful therapy would be one where the patient could suppress all psycheidetic sensitivity as long as they adhered to the treatment regimen, and a cure would mean the extinction of the patient's psycheidetic sensitivity.