Title:
A Historical Vignette (13) “Be proud of yourself: you have a History!” “Who are you, Nystagmus?” A semantic and historical approach
Authors:
J. Tainmont
Institutions:
Winston Churchill Avenue 172, P.O. Box 9, 1180 Brussels, Belgium
Keywords:
Nystagmus; Hippos; Nictatio; Hippocrates; Galen; Ambroise Paré; Boissier de Sauvages
Pages:
55 - 63
Abstract:
“Who are you, Nystagmus?”A semantic and historical approach. Initially, the need to name nystagmus was logically satisfied by the use of the metaphor of a galloping horse, “hippus”. Later, nictatio, oeil d’hypocrite and souris embodied the presumed connection between blinking and the rhythmic involuntary movements of the eyeball. Blinking was also considered by Boissier as an inseparable companion of the unsteadiness of the eyeballs. Since drowsiness is a good example of a state accompanied by blinking, it makes sense, strange though it may seem, to use the Greek word for drowsiness, “nustagmos”, to refer to the instable movement of the eyeballs. From a poetic point of view and in the light of the rapid phase of the phenomenon, nystagmus can be thought of as “a modern Sisyphus, the operator of the eternal return”.
Issue:
Vol. 5, 2009, 1st trimester


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A Historical Vignette (13) “Be proud of yourself: you have a History!” “Who are you, Nystagmus?” A semantic and historical approach