- Diseases, Disorders & Conditions
What Are Mary Hart Seizures?
Mary Hart Seizures - An Overview
Mary Hart was a model and actress who gained fame on Entertainment Tonight. Every evening, she would come into our living rooms after the national news and tell us all about Hollywood and its inhabitants. She brought us the hook ups, the break ups, and the bust ups of the 80's, 90's, and turn of the century stars.
She also brought some epileptics seizures. The mere sound of her voice could induce an epileptic seizure for some people who were prone to the condition. Poor Ms. Hart could not enter some homes due to this dangerous situation. The longest running, most popular entertainment show on television simply could not be played in some homes due to the mere sound of the hostess's voice.
Cases of the Seizures
In 1989, a woman brought suit against a hospital in Albany, NY for wrongful termination. The hospital reassigned the woman, a nurse, to a section of the hospital where a number of televisions would play Ms. Hart's voice every night. The nurse claimed that the hospital was aware she had epilepsy and that Ms. Hart induced seizures. Before the transfer, the nurse worked in an area where she could not hear the show. After the transfer, the woman seized and the hospital saw fit to dismiss her. She sought reinstatement in her previous position and monetary damages.
In 1991, Dr. Venkat Ramani released a study to the New England Journal of Medicine stating that Mary Hart Seizures are real. He conducted a field test at the University of Albany where he studied a woman who claimed to have the condition. Upon hearing Ms. Hart, the woman complained of a stomachache and dizziness. She also seemed confused and appeared to lose visual focus. There is no confirmation that the woman in this study was the nurse from 1989. Dr. Ramani concluded that the seizure lasted for thirty seconds and that the condition was confirmed through replication in a laboratory setting.
Finally, psychology journals have identified this type of epilepsy as "reflex epilepsy". The condition is quite real, and while others may find it hilarious, sufferers certainly aren't giggling. A reflex epilepsy is one which is triggered by a flashing light or a person's voice. It is unknown if Ms. Hart herself could cause a seizure or if it is simply the changes in her voice as it travels over the airwaves.
Mary Hart's Reaction
It was 4:00 in the morning on the West Coast when the epileptic seizure story broke on the East Coast. Someone wanted to let Ms. Hart know right away, so she received an early morning call from her East Coast associates. Needless to say, she was shocked.
She didn't believe it until she read the article posted by Dr. Ramani. She was still in a state of disbelief for a few moments, then she just felt bad for the case in the New England Journal of Medicine.
She was confused by the incident because this was only one case of her voice causing another person anguish. Perhaps she laughed a little at the idea before she accepted it as a serious issue. Either way, she was shocked and taken aback by the idea that the sound of her voice could elicit such a unique reaction.
She wanted to call the woman in the case study to personally apologize, but she rightfully was afraid to talk to her. Again, she didn't know if the condition was brought on by her voice or by the way her voice sounded over the airways.
She chose to tell people in the media, such as Dave Letterman, that she was sorry for this woman's condition. She elected to leave the woman at peace to avoid causing any more dangerous seizures. Perhaps she hoped that a friend or family member would communicate her apology to this woman. Either way, Mary Hart was very gracious and never broke away from the reputation she had built for herself on the air.
The only known treatment for a Mary Hart seizure is avoidance of the show. She is famous, so she often guest stars on programs, such as the David Letterman show in the above video. The best way to avoid Mary Hart is to check local listings and make sure she will not be involved in any programs.
Channel surfing is out for sufferers of this condition. Entertainment Tonight is in syndication, so the chances of stumbling upon her voice outside the usual time frames has risen. Planning the television programming available in the home of sufferers is the best course of action to avoid the condition.