Michael Savage is a radio personality who has been known to make some controversial statements. Recently, he said that epilepsy medication causes “cognitive problems”. This is not true. His misinformation might make people assume that children, and adults, who have epilepsy also have a cognitive disability.
Michael Savage is a conservative American radio host. His show is called “The Michael Savage Show”, and I think it may have also been called “The Savage Nation”. I’m not entirely sure because I rarely listen to the radio anymore. However, I know that Michael Savage is someone who has gained quite a bit of popularity with Americans who share his conservative political viewpoints.
Recently, Michael Savage was commenting on his thoughts about the Supreme Court’s decision about the Affordable Care Act. Instead of making an argument about parts of the Affordable Care Act that he didn’t like, or opining about the way he would have liked the vote to have gone, he decided to target Chief Justice John Roberts. Specifically, he wanted to point out that Roberts has epilepsy.
“Epilepsy is a disorder that results from the surges in electrical signals inside the brain, causing recurring seizures. Seizure symptoms vary. Some people with epilepsy simply stare blankly for a few seconds during a seizure, while others have full-fledged convulsions. Even mild seizures may require treatment because they can be dangerous during activities such as driving or swimming. Treatment – which generally includes medications and sometimes surgery- usually eliminates or reduces the frequency and intensity of seizures”.
Here is what Michael Savage said about Chief Justice John Roberts:
“Let’s talk about Roberts. I’m going to tell you something that you’re not going to hear anywhere else, that you must pay attention to. It’s well known that Roberts, unfortunately for him, has suffered from epileptic seizures. Therefore he has been on medication. Therefore neurologists will tell you that medication used for seizure disorders, such as epilepsy, can introduce mental slowing, forgetfulness and other cognitive problems. And if you look at Roberts’ writings you can see the cognitive dissociation in what he is saying”.
One can assume that Michael Savage made this statement because he did not like the way that Chief Justice John Roberts voted when the Supreme Court decided the case about the Affordable Care Act.
The problem is that Savage’s statement doesn’t just attack Roberts. It also makes it sound as though all children and adults who have epilepsy have a cognitive disability. This simply isn’t true, and it is unfair for Savage to make this claim that can be used by uneducated people to discriminate against people who have epilepsy.
The Mayo Clinic says:
“All anti-seizure medications have some side effects. Mild side effects include: fatigue, dizziness, weight gain, loss of bone density, skin rashes, loss of coordination, speech problems. More severe but rare side effects include: depression, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, severe rash, inflammation of certain organs, such as your pancreas or liver”.
There is nothing in that list of side effects that in any way indicates that medications that are used to treat epilepsy cause “mental slowing, forgetfulness, and other cognitive problems”, as Michael Savage incorrectly claims.
Image by Alan Levine on Flickr