Encephalitis Lethargica Compared to the Movie Awakenings

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  • Topic: Awakenings, Oliver Sacks, Encephalitis
  • Pages : 3 (879 words )
  • Download(s) : 327
  • Published : March 21, 2013
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Encephalitis lethargica is a rare disease which is an atypical form of encephalitis that can cause symptoms that range from headaches to coma like states. Other potential symptoms include things such as double vision, high fevers, lethargy, and delayed physical and mental reactions. The treatment of the illness was the main focus of the movie awakenings and the book it was based upon. The cause of the illness even today still remains much of a mystery with successful treatment also following suit, thankfully however since a large outbreak of the illness in the late 1960’s there have been very rare reported cases of the disease since.

When the movie Awakenings begins we find one of the main characters, Leonard Lowe, as a child. In the movie the viewer sees young Leonard begin to suffer from early symptoms of encephalitis lethargica, he quickly becomes unable to keep up in school and is taken out so he can be watched and also presumably to prevent the disease from potentially spreading. The movie then jumps to 1969 where the viewer is Dr. Sayer apply for a job in Bronx, his experience up to that point had been all research but the hospital being underemployed hires him anyways. Dr. Sayer soon becomes determined to improve the quality of life for his patients and begins to look for a way to alleviate there illness, despite the skepticism of his peers. After investigating into several of his catatonic patients he finds out that many of them had suffered from encephalitis lethargica at one point or another in their past. Soon after discovering this Dr. Sayer proceeds to learn more about them by consulting a doctor who had treated many patients with the disease. He learns that many patients who survived the outbreak would seem to have periods where they would appear to recover from the illness for a time but after an amount of time would fall back into a state of catatonia.

Shortly after learning this probably due to the simple fact that the catatonic behavior of...
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