The mystery of Gustave Flaubert's death: could sudden unexpected death in epilepsy be part of the context?

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de Albuquerque M, Scorza CA, Arida RM, Cavalheiro EA, and Scorza FA (2009) The mystery of Gustave Flaubert’s death: Could sudden unexpected death in epilepsy be part of the context? Arq Neuropsiquiatr 67:2B 548–52.

Link to Article

Abstract: Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological condition and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP) is the most important direct epilepsy-related cause of death. Information concerning risk factors for SUDEP is conflicting, but high seizure frequency is a potential risk factor. Additionally, potential pathomechanisms for SUDEP are unknown, but it is very probable that cardiac arrhythmias during and between seizures or transmission of epileptic activity to the heart via the autonomic nervous system potentially play a role. More than two decades ago, temporal lobe epilepsy was suggested as having been the nervous disease of Gustave Flaubert, one of the most important French novelists. In these lines, as the circumstances of his death were the subject of fabulous and mysterious speculations, we postulated in this paper that Flaubert's death could be due SUDEP phenomenon.

Keywords: epilepsy, Gustave Flaubert, SUDEP, seizure


  • See annotation at Scorza et al.