Epilepsy Talk

Lefties Unite! | June 13, 2011

So you have epilepsy.  And you’re left-handed.  Is it a curse…a blessing…or a challenge?

Well, you’re not exactly alone.  Between six and sixteen percent of people today are left-handed. And guess what?  Left-handedness is also associated with a higher incidence of epilepsy.  Gee, what a surprise!

But, here’s the good news…

There have been lots of famous left-handed people. And the associated right brain hemisphere that is said to be more active in left-handed people has been found to often be associated with genius, artistic and visual skill.

Here are just a few inspiring examples of lefties: Kermit the Frog… Bart Simpson…Jerry Seinfeld…Charlie Chaplin…Greta Garbo (my personal favorite)…Cary Grant…Angelina Jolie…Tom Cruise…Marilyn Monroe…Joan of Arc… Helen Keller…Alexander the Great…Napoléon Bonaparte…The Boston Strangler…Lewis Carroll…Michelangelo…Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, (“We love you, yeah, yeah, yeah”)…and US President Barack Obama.  Quite an illustrious group!

Left-Handed Myths: left-handed people have a shorter lifespan because of mental confusion that leads to accidents and injuries (???)…we have demonic traits…we’re immoral and unholy…we’re clumsy (Well you don’t have to be a lefty to be clumsy!)…and we have less of a chance of surviving hand-to-hand combat!

Left-Handed Facts: left-handed people are high achievers…plus lefties are good at problem solving and multitasking, because we’re good at breaking down information and finding solutions.

Unfriendly Tools for Lefties: it’s a right-handed world and many tools are designed without lefties in mind…(We’ve already have had plenty of experience with these!) For example: potato peelers, corkscrews, rulers, scissors, number keys on keyboards, cameras, guitars, the computer mouse, watches, checkbooks, measuring cups and pencil sharpeners.

Lefty-Friendly Devices: Left-handed golf clubs.  So, if you play golf, you’ve got it made in the shade!  Just look at the famous left-handed-playing golfer, Phil Mickelson!

But just like having epilepsy, we adapt.  And society is coming around to seeing things our way. The increasing number of lefties springing up in the 21st century has society believing that we could increase intellectual advance and create a leap in the number of mathematical, sporting, or artistic geniuses.

Lefties Rule! Where would the world be without us?

Righties, you are free to defend yourself…










  1. Phylis, this is a good topic. When I was going to school, I was left-handed. They tried to make me spell right-handed. Boy, is my handwriting lousy. It is getting better, though.

    I am not good at problem solving. I am a little creative, though. I love poetry.For the last 2 years, though, I have only came up with one poem. In 2009, I was writing all sorts of poems.


    Comment by ruth brown — June 13, 2011 @ 6:37 PM

  2. Hey, Ruth, another poet? I’d love to read some of your work if you’re willing to share. Before I selected poems for my book, I hadn’t written a thing in two years either. My father died two years ago June 2, and he had been a great source of inspiration and help to me. I refer to him as my writing mentor. He really taught me a lot, and I admire his writing. I recently said on my blog that I wouldn’t be posting every day anymore, as I wanted to work at getting back to writing poetry. And guess what? That was all I needed to start, a sort of permission to myself, if you will. Now it feels wonderful to be in the whoosh of words again.


    Comment by Maggie — June 13, 2011 @ 6:51 PM

  3. Why don’t you have a topic where everyone can write their poems.

    That would be good.


    Comment by ruth brown — June 13, 2011 @ 7:43 PM

    • Great idea! But here’s the hitch…it would have to be about epilepsy, like Maggie’s book.

      Have you read it?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 13, 2011 @ 7:46 PM

  4. The question is Maggie, are you writing with your right or left hand and which hand do you use for the mouse?

    I’m totally messed up. I write with my left hand and “mouse” with my right. Go figure!

    And Ruth, no one tried to make me a rightie, but my handwriting is awful and I have NO excuse!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 13, 2011 @ 7:44 PM

  5. I have not read Maggies book of poems. I have a couple of poems that are about epilepsy. I will share them. How about on, it’s your turn. I am feeling sleepy now and have to rest.


    Comment by ruth brown — June 13, 2011 @ 7:58 PM

    • Super idea Ruth, although I have no epilepsy poems in my arsenal…I’ll try to come up with something worthy of ya’ll. (Which are high standards to live up to.)

      “It’s Your Turn” has now been turned into poetry instead of bitching and moaning. Everyone ok with that or do you want me to start a separate thread?


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 13, 2011 @ 10:58 PM

      • I don’t know….where am I going to bitch at?


        Comment by Mike Farnam — June 14, 2011 @ 4:03 AM

  6. I’m up for the idea of sharing epilepsy poems. I have others that are not in my book. Anyone else want to come on board for this?

    And I’m right-handed, right-moused : ), and right-brained!


    Comment by Maggie — June 13, 2011 @ 9:14 PM

    • So rightie, who said YOU were welcome??? 😉

      Aw, we won’t hold it against you. We love you too much to “discriminate!”


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 13, 2011 @ 11:00 PM

    • I’m right handed and a no-brainer.


      Comment by Mike Farnam — June 14, 2011 @ 4:04 AM

  7. OK, I’ll go back to my “rightie” corner!


    Comment by Maggie — June 14, 2011 @ 12:29 AM

  8. I love it! Let hear it for the ambidextrious! Yea!

    Poets…..Wow, my daughter is a left handed and I love the schools now that do not force you to write right handed! She likes to write poetry to her boyfriend!

    My son is right handed and my husband is right handed.

    I can do anything w/ both hands.


    Comment by Toni Robison — June 14, 2011 @ 1:32 AM

  9. I can always tell a persons left handed when they flip me off with left middle finger. LOL!


    Comment by Mike Farnam — June 14, 2011 @ 3:53 AM

  10. On a serious note:

    I have 3 friend who are left hande and they all have some stage of dyslexia


    Comment by Mike Farnam — June 14, 2011 @ 4:37 AM

  11. Phyllis I have to say many of your statements according to my scientific research is not correct. I have spent 20 years researching “Left-handedness the Causes and Consequences.” Yes it is true that we don’t die younger but unless you can show me specific scientific studies that I may not know of, there is no valid statistic or study to back up your statements on abnormalities, Please read an exerpt from my book, “Left-handed But Not Left Behind,” and I would love to hear from you if I am wrong to up-date my research:

    For years studies were leading to evidence that even though lefties represent a small percentage of the population, there is a large ratio of them represented among schizophrenics, alcoholics, manic depressives, stutter’s, mental retardation, epilepsy, depression, attempted suicide, dyslexia, migraine headaches, criminality, bed wetting, poor verbal ability, psychosis, reading disability, school failure, and allergies. This is all hearsay, there are no valid statistics or studies to back up these statements and science has refuted these claims.


    Comment by Anne DaneseThomassen — June 22, 2011 @ 5:08 PM

  12. See references above.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — June 22, 2011 @ 5:26 PM

  13. Hi Anne, for one who believes in links to scientic proof, where are your links?

    I am left handed. I have 2 sons who are right-handed and have mental illness. I have poor hand-writing because when I went to school, they made me write right handed. If they had worked with me being left handed, I would have good writing.

    I do have dylexia, though. A lot of right handed people have dylexia. Most left handed people are very creative. I love to write poetry. Sometimes they are good and sometimes they are not.

    Phylis’s links are all I need. In fact, personal experiences are even better.


    Comment by ruth brown — June 22, 2011 @ 11:31 PM

  14. I forgot to say something, so I am right back. I have epilepsy,bad memory and diabetes. Is there proof that left handnesses causes the other two.

    For the last 62 years, epilepsy, and now diabetes has been a challenge for me. My left handness has nothing to do with it.


    Comment by ruth brown — June 22, 2011 @ 11:38 PM

  15. Paul McCartney may play bass left handed. But he is right handed.


    Comment by Mary — May 21, 2012 @ 2:07 PM

  16. Maybe he has “mixed dominance.”

    I start on my right foot and some other crazy things, but I’m a lefty, no doubt!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 21, 2012 @ 2:10 PM

    • I was a lefty when I started school. Now I write right handed. First question my neuro asks is “are you right or left handed.”. Makes a difference.


      Comment by Mary — May 21, 2012 @ 7:24 PM

      • Did they force you to become a “righty?” (That’s what happened to my aunt. They actually TIED her left hand behind her!)


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 21, 2012 @ 7:28 PM

  17. I learned, getting an angiogram, that we lefties can be left- or right-brained. But I never learned which I am, since they didn’t find which part of my brain was causing the seizures, so I assume my brain-dominance will be a mystery. I was also told that it appeared to be familial, which I checked out on a hunch with a distant cousin I spoke to years later after having done some family history. Yup. So that explained why I, and one of my lefty sons both, are recipients of the familial epilepsy gene (three out of four of my young ones are lefties). Luckily, his is not nearly as serious as mine. We all missed the forced change of handedness, fortunately. Although many my age got that treatment, my mom’s father was lefthanded, so she and dad wouldn’t have allowed it. At least they never had to fight the battle.


    Comment by catsissie — March 19, 2016 @ 9:12 PM

  18. I’m the only leftie in the family, although they did try to make my aunt a rightie by tying her left hand behind her back. So barbaric. But it didn’t work.

    At least I was spared that.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — March 20, 2016 @ 11:12 AM

  19. Well, only between six and sixteen percent of people today are left-handed, while Epilepsy affects over 3 million Americans of all ages.

    I’d call it the luck of the draw! 🙂


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — January 10, 2017 @ 11:59 AM

  20. hey everybody, im left handed. what was really messed up was that in my school, they only had right handed desks

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by dj — May 11, 2018 @ 4:58 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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