Blog · Dealing with epilepsy · Misconceptions

Elon Musk’so first principles applied to epilepsy

I was reading yesterday about how Elon Musk thinks and why is he so successful. People say that he “works” on first principles. I first heard about first principles when I was around 18 (so 15 years ago) when I was studying philosophy and going to philosophy competitions.

First principles = origins (of anything). Using first principles as a mental model (I’ll talk about this in a future post) is a thing to do. First principles tell you to break down a thing until its raw form that deters fallacies. It’s a weird explanation, but, in my head, it’s the right one.

In one sentence: break down a thing to see its origin and start your thinking process from there.

For persons with epilepsy, the example I am giving is the following: should I tell people about my epilepsy?


  • people think you can “catch” it – thus social isolation;
  • people think that it is inherited – thus a fear of marrying someone with epilepsy -> only 4-8% of epilepsy is inherited.
  • people think that you are dumber than the rest – thus mocking, social isolation and reduced access to some (educational) services -> just as an example, famous people with epilepsy: Danny Glover, Neil Young, Caligula, Dostoevsky, Prince, Lenin and more. You can find lists online.
  • you think that you can’t have a normal live anymore – thus social isolation -> about 80% of epilepsy cases can have the seizures controlled by medication;
  • you think you are dumber than everyone else – thus social isolation, reduced education, measly jobs -> according to several tests, my IQ is over 150 (the average IQ is between 90 and 120), I have a PhD, I work in research and many other things;

The list could go on, but this is just as an example.

To answer the question: should I tell people about my epilepsy? It is a simple reasoning process that you have to develop.

I told people after quite a few years after being diagnosed. I was afraid of all the things above. But thinking about it: I’m not really a sociable guy anyway, I didn’t care about other people’s opinion, I learned what epilepsy is and does to me (not to others), I simply didn’t give a anymore of all those stereotypes.

This thought process made me tell all people about this: family, friends, boss etc. They are the ones that have to deal with me having epilepsy at a mental level.