Saturday, September 8, 2012

Epilepsy in Thailand

L has RAS, not epilepsy.  But nobody's ever heard of RAS, so when they hear that L has seizures, they think of epilepsy.  I don't mind.  There are differences, but when it comes down to it, no matter what the underlying cause, the seizure is what people remember.  And since most people associate seizures with epilepsy, even though Lennon isn't epileptic, perceptions of epilepsy affect him, too.

The real Thai word for epilepsy is โรคลมชัก (rok lom chak)- a compound word made of the words disease, faint, and seizure.  The faint and seizure disease.  It makes sense.

But what does everyone call epilepsy?  โรคลมบ้าหมู (rok lom baa mu)- meaning "crazy pig fainting disease".  I hate it.  It's not a cruel slur; it's the word even sweet, old grannies would use.  Whim claims that no one thinks of madness or pigs when they use the word (just like we don't think of boards when we say the word cupboard) but I can't believe that.  Epilepsy has an undeserved stigma here, and maybe one way to change that would be to start by challenging the harmlessness of such an insulting name.

He may be a little odd, but don't call him a crazy pig!

4 comments:

  1. Awesome photo and caption :) I assume the pig part is a reference to the tapeworm-seizure connection?

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Laura! I'm not sure how the pig part came to be. I do know that Thai culture is heavily influence by the Chinese culture, and I read that epilepsy was called pig-seizures disease and goat-seizures disease in Chinese (in the past - it now has a more PC name). That is probably a part of it.

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  2. This is really interesting. I had no idea what they called it in Thai, but it is something interesting. I love the pictures...

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    1. Thanks, Claudia! The Thai language is a funny thing, isn't it? I guess English is too, though, when it comes down to it.

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