New Health Guide

Famous People with Epilepsy

Nov 03, 2013

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that causes unprovoked, recurrent seizures. Many manage to control this condition with medication, but there is no cure for epilepsy. Surgery may be used to help manage extreme cases of this disease. Listed below are famous people that have epilepsy and how they have overcome this condition to leave a significant impact on the world.

Neil Young

image001Musician Neil Young is known for his powerful lyrics and is often noted as one of the greatest guitarists from his time. Young also acts as a spokesman for environmental issues and acts as a peacekeeper, using his music as a way to speak out against injustice. Neil Young has suffered from many medical obstacles including polio, epilepsy and diabetes.

The following video showcases Neil Young in concert in 1971:


Hugo Weaving

image002Stage and voice actor Hugo Weaving is best known for his role as leader of the elves in Lord of the Rings or the virtual, invincible villain in The Matrix. Weaving was diagnosed with epilepsy when he was 13 and due to this condition he cannot drive.



Richard Burton

image003Burton was once the highest paid actor in Hollywood, famed for his distinctive voice. Epilepsy plagued him all his life, and he eventually fell into deep alcoholism trying to control his seizures. This led to manic depression which he refused to treat because he did not trust doctors. In some cases he seemed to be scared of mental illness than his epilepsy.


Danny Glover

image004Danny Glover acted in Lethal Weapon alongside Mel Gibson as well as in Predator 2. Glover was noted for having dyslexia in school, causing his school staff to label him retarded. He revealed on an episode of the Rosie O’Donnell Show that he was diagnosed with epilepsy at 15. The early development of this disease caused him to experience six seizures in a row during a family cross-country trip.


Chanda Gunn

image005American hockey player Chanda Gunn won bronze at the Winter Olympics in 2006 in spite of suffering from temporal lobe epilepsy. Gunn is determined to make the most of each day and faces life with zest. In addition to her metal at the Olympics, Gunn was the first player to be a finalist for both the Humanitarian Award for college hockey’s finest citizen and the Patty Kazmaier Award for best female hockey player in the nation.


Theodore Roosevelt

image006Roosevelt served as a historian, soldier, naturalist, explorer, Governor of New York, author and President of the United States from October 27, 1858- January 6, 1919. He suffered from epileptic seizures, asthma and poor eyesight, but still had a great personal strength and courage that many admired.


Bud Abbott


American comedian, producer and actor Bud Abbott would often try to hide the fact that he had epilepsy. He suffered from this disease his whole life and eventually started trying to control it with alcohol. His alcoholism eventually caused him tax issues with the IRS, leading him to go bankrupt.



Alfred Nobel

image008Swedish engineer, chemist, innovator, inventor of dynamite and armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel was plagued with epileptic seizures as a child. He wrote of these agonies in a poem which is often quoted today. Alfred Nobel outlined the foundations for the Nobel Prize in his will in 1895 which dedicated much of his estate to establishing the prize.


Vincent Van Gogh


The passionate artists Vincent Van Gogh believed in expressing all emotions through color. His epilepsy symptoms once caused him to chase his friends with a razor and then cut off part of his earlobe. He later shot himself, believing this course of action to be “for the good of all.” He is now remembered through his many colorful paintings.


Lord Byron

image010Baron Byron of Rochdale in County Palatine of Lancaster is a well-known title from the Peerage of England. This title was founded in 1643 for Sir John Byron via letters patent. Sir John Byron was a cavalier general and a member of Parliament. Some biographies of Sir Byron imply that he suffered from epileptic seizures as some of his written passages speak of symptoms that are similar to those of epilepsy.


Edgar Allen Poe

image011Edgar Allen Poe was a literacy critic and author during the Romantic Movement. He has written many short stories and books known for their mysterious and macabre themes. He is often credited with inventing detective fiction. Many believe Poe’s mental instability stemmed from drug use, but today historians suspect that he may have had epilepsy that was undiagnosed, leading to frequent confusion.


Julius Caesar

image012In many portrayals, Julius Caesar is depicted as suffering from epilepsy. The famous movie Caesar and Cleopatra featuring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor shows Caesar fearing the likelihood that he would have an epileptic attack when he addressed the Roman populace. Wikipedia also notes that Caesar had four documented episodes of complete partial seizures, and may have also experienced seizures when he was young. Many historians argue that these seizures could have been caused by chills form malaria or low blood sugar.