Geschwind Syndrome, also known as Gastaut-Geschwind, is considered a personality disorder that is characterized with five primary symptoms; hypergraphia, hyperreligiosity, atypical sexuality, circumstantiality, and intensified mental life. Not all symptoms have to be present for an individual to be categorized with this syndrome. These symptoms present themselves in association with patients that have a certain kind of epilepsy called temporal lobe epilepsy. Personality changes seen with people with TLE are chronic not acute. Changes in personality develop and become more noticeable over time. The symptoms are interictal, meaning they occur between seizures. There is controversy surrounding whether this is a syndrome or not. This syndrome is named after Norman Geschwind who was one of the first individuals to categorize these symptoms. He has published many bodies of work from 1973 to 1984 on the topic.
Hypergraphia is the tendency for extensive and compulsive writing. Those with hypergraphia have extreme attention to detail in their writing. Some patients keep diaries and write down meticulous details about their everyday lives. In certain cases, the writing of patients has demonstrated extreme interest in religious topics. Also, these individuals tend to have poor handwriting. Fyodor Dostoyevsky, a famous writer, has shown symptoms of Geschwind syndrome including hypergraphia.
Some individuals may exhibit increased, usually intense, religious feelings. It has been reported that many religious leaders exhibit this form of epilepsy. These religious feelings can be expressed in multiple different religions. There are reports of patients that move from religion to religion for multiple different reasons. Other reports show that some patients internalize their religious feelings, even when they are asked if they are religious they will say they are not.
Geschwind patients reported higher rates of atypical or altered sexuality. In approximately half of individuals hyposexuality, decreased libido, is reported. Cases of hypersexuality have also been reported.
Individuals that demonstrate circumstantiality tend to continue conversations for a long time and talk receptively.
- Tebartz Van Elst, L.; Krishnamoorthy, E. S.; Bäumer, D.; Selai, C.; von Gunten, A.; Gene-Cos, N.; Ebert, D.; Trimble, M. R. (2003). "Psychopathological profile in patients with severe bilateral hippocampal atrophy and temporal lobe epilepsy: Evidence in support of the Geschwind syndrome?". Epilepsy & Behavior 4 (3): 291. doi:10.1016/S1525-5050(03)00084-2.
- Benson, D. F. (1991). "The Geschwind syndrome". Advances in neurology 55: 411–21. PMID 2003418.
- Devinsky, J.; Schachter, S. (2009). "Norman Geschwind's contribution to the understanding of behavioral changes in temporal lobe epilepsy: The February 1974 lecture". Epilepsy & Behavior 15 (4): 417–24. doi:10.1016/j.yebeh.2009.06.006. PMID 19640791.