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Kleine–Levin syndrome (KLS) is a rare disease characterised by recurrent episodes of hypersomnia and, to varying degrees, behavioural/cognitive disturbances, compulsive eating and hypersexuality. Kleine, a neurologist, was the “first” to describe a series of nine cases of recurrent hypersomnia in a 1925 publication1; one case involved a young woman. In 1936, Levin, a psychiatrist, added a series of five other cases, focusing on the relationship between hypersomnia and disordered eating.2 In 1962, Critchley, who gave the disorder its name, added to the literature 11 cases he had personally observed as a physician for the British Royal Navy.3 In a recent review of the literature, Arnulf et al compiled 186 cases dating from 1962 to 2004.4
Huang and Arnulf5 report on a description of KLS written by A Brière de Boismont in 1862. In this article, I present a case history of episodic hypersomnia associated with disordered eating and neurological disturbances. The report was written by a French physician, Edmé Chauvot de Beauchêne (1749–1824), and was published in 1786.6
Beauchêne completed his studies at the renowned medical school in Montpellier, its reputation dating back to the middle ages. His professors included F Boissier de Sauvages, author of an esteemed nosology. Beauchêne embarked on his career towards the end of the enlightenment and, like his contemporaries P Pomme7 and J Raulin,8 he became interested in “vapours”. In his book entitled De l’influence des affections de l’âme dans les maladies nerveuses des femmes avec le traitement qui convient à ces maladies (1781) (How affections of the soul …
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