Saturday, March 08, 2008

Caregiving: MS: A SHORT HISTORY / MS Awareness Month

March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month --- MS: A SHORT HISTORY


Allow me to introduce the "the Napoleon of the neuroses," Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot (1825–93), the first person to recognize and label sclerose en plaques as a distinct, separate disease. 


In 1878, Charcot identified MS as dysarthria (problems with speech), ataxia (problems with coordination), and tremor. Charcot also observed cognition changes in MS since he described his patients as having a "marked enfeeblement of the memory" and "with conceptions that formed slowly".


His pupil, Dr. Sigmund Freud would detour Multiple Sclerosis treatment (called “creeping paralysis” in those days) as a mental condition caused by “female hysteria.” … Ahhhh! Sigmund you were such a bubba! …  


Historical records and ‘journals’ provide even earlier accounts of people who probably had MS, Saint Lidwina (1380–1433) and Augustus Frederick d'Este (1794–1848), a grandson of King George III of Great Britain.


Back to the 20th Century … in spite of growing medical knowledge, little or no coordinated research was conducted into the mysteries of MS until relatively recent times.


The catalyst was an ordinary citizen who single-handedly launched an international war on MS.

Sylvia Lawry (1915–2001), whose brother Bernard was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, placed a classified advertisement in The New York Times in 1945,

"Multiple Sclerosis: Will anyone recovered from it please communicate with patient."

50 replies reported no recoveries only others seeking hope themselves.


Within a year, she had managed to enroll more than 20 scientists to found the world’s first ever MS organization, the Association for Advancement of Research in Multiple Sclerosis.


MS eventually claimed her brother’s life, yet Sylvia Lawry never slowed her war. Approximately 75 National MS Societies worldwide and the Multiple Sclerosis International Federation (MSIF) would evolve from Sylvia Lawry’s original organization.


With increasing MS awareness and fundraising the late 20th Century exploded with research and hope.


1993 hailed the first MS medication, Betaseron®, to reduce the severity and frequency of attacks for specific types and levels of Multiple Sclerosis.


MS Awareness is people; patients, friends, family, spouse caregivers, and caregivers … ordinary people driven by caring to attempt the extraordinary.


Caregivingly Yours, J Patrick Leer

non-caregiver musings:



  1. Female hysteria???   yeah, right.... I don't think he ever really did see female hysteria!!  <grin>

    MS is nothing to fool around with, as is other disabilities. Just off the tip of your fingers, what was typical age of expiration prior to modern medicine?  I know with Charlie's spina bifida, if he had been born in 500 years ago, he would not have lived very long. Modern medicine has it's wonderful moments, doesn't it??


  2. got to be thankful for the Sylvia Lawry and her efforts to try to help her brother; this was an interesting read; I never cared for the teachings of Sigmund Freud



Blog Archive