The downfall of “idiopathic recurring stupor”

In the spring and summer of 1997, residents of Camigliano, a community in Tuscany near Lucca, began falling asleep under mysterious circumstances. One by one, seven people entered a trance-like lethargic state, typically lasting 10 to 20 hours. The strange somnolence affected a woman in her 80s more than 10 times, while affecting her neighbors and relatives between one and five times. The signs of onset were similar: dizziness, loss of coordination, sometimes nausea and then sleep. Some people could briefly respond to questions or even eat, but then returned to slumber. Upon waking, they did not remember what happened.

Map showing Camigliano in relation to Lucca and Pisa, from TuttoCitta.it
Flumazenil is normally used in cases of benzodiazepine overdose
Giuseppe Plazzi in 2018 at the University of Bologna
Elio Lugaresi

Quinn was trained as a biochemist and then as a science journalist. He is interested in the neurobiology of sleep disorders.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store