Anne(tte) Beaumanoir (1923–2022), a French neurologist, clinical neurophysiologist, and epileptologist, died in her ninetyninth year of life. She was honorary member of the Swiss Epilepsy League and awarded with the Tissot Medal.
Anne Beaumanoir, known as Annette, was born in the little town Le Guildo, Notre-Dame-du-Guildo [now Saint-Cast-le-Guildo] in the Département of Côtes-d’Armor. After the Spanish Civil War, she and her mother became involved in a solidarity committee to support Spaniards fleeing Franco’s fascists to France.
Since the age of 18 she was an active member of the French Resistance against the occupation of the national socialist army in World War II. In 1942 she became a member of the French Communist Party and went underground. In 1944 she warned Jewish families in Paris about searches and hided children. Therefore she was lateron awarded Knight of the French Legion of Honor and — along with her also anti-fascist parents — the honorary title Righteous Among the Nations from the Israeli International Holocaust Remembrance Center Yad Vashem for their support of Jews in Brittany during World War II.
Part of the «Gastaut driving force»
After the end of the WWII resumed her medical studies at the University of Aix-Marseille and graduated in 1954 with an award-winning doctorate (“Contribution à l’Étude Expérimentale de l’Épilepsie partielle ” ). After her thesis, Anne took place in the Gastaut driving force with Yvette Gastaut, Micheline Vigouroux, Jean Regis, Robert Naquet and many others coming to learn EEG in Marseille.
They brought a series of major contributions concerning neurophysiology and epilepsy and defined major human EEG patterns recognized by the International Federation of EEG and Clinical Neurophysiology such as lambda waves, mu rhythm, posterior theta rhythm, and rolandic spikes. In addition, they established several methods for activating abnormal EEG discharges, including photic stimulation and photic-pentylenetetrazol activation.
She trained in neurology and clinical neurophysiology in Marseille and married Joseph (“Jo”) Roger (1918 – 2012), with whom she had three children. Both were members of the French Communist Party, but left due to dissenting positions in 1955.
Via Tunesia and Algeria to Switzerland
In the mid-1950s, the Algerian War threatened to divide colonial France. Anne took sides with the Algerian National Liberation Front and also convinced her husband. Both went into illegality; they were betrayed, but only Anne was arrested in 1959. Although she was pregnant with their daughter, she was sentenced to ten years in prison, but she evaded the sentence and fled via Italy to Tunisia.
After the end of the Algerian war of independence in 1962, she became part of the government team of Ahmed Ben Bella (1916 – 2012), the first Algerian president, and worked to build a progressive health care system. Following the coup of Houari Boumedienne (1927 – 1978) in 1965, she narrowly escaped arrest and fled again.
Amnesty in France was a long time coming, so Anne went to neighboring Switzerland, where from 1968 onwards, she was the head of the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology and Epileptology at the University of Geneva. Among other progress, she was the first to establish a video-EEG telemetry in Switzerland.
In 1972 she wrote her Ph.D. thesis, and from 1975 – 1990 she was professor of clinical neurophysiology and epileptology in the departments of neurology and neurosurgery at the University of Geneva. She wrote several papers about neurophysiology and epilepsy: some EEG aspects in cerebrovascular disease, some epileptic syndromes especially occipital epilepsies. Her jubilee was celebrated in 1988 at Geneva University with a participation of epileptologists from all around the world who discussed about reflex epilepsies.
After her retirement there, she was a member of the scientific committee of the Mariani Foundation in Milan from 1992 to 2002. Until a few years ago, she was involved with lectures at conferences, seminars and educational events, especially in schools, against nationalism, racism and religious fanaticism.
Compared to Mata Hari and Marie Curie
The Swiss League Against Epilepsy made her an honorary member in 2010 and awarded its Tissot Medal to her in 2021. She was (co-) author of numerous articles (Selection: 5–9) and (co-) author or (co-) editor of many books (10–23), among others with Fred Andermann (1930 – 2019), Henri Gastaut (1915 – 1995), Robert Naquet (1923 – 2005) and her former husband Jo Roger, including autobiographical reports also about her political engagement (22, 23).
Her last two years of life were affected by the consequences of a stroke. Anne has been described in a French television report on her in 2019 (24) as a mixture of the Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan Mata Hari (1876 – 1917), the Polish-French physicist and chemist Marie Curie (1867 – 1934), and the French history teacher and member of the French Resistance during World War II as herself Lucie Aubrac or Lucie Samuel (1912 – 2007).
Anne Beaumanoir has been an amazing, tremendous woman! She shared an incredible bravery faced with adversity, she knew how to manage a good learning of EEG with rigor and kindness, she could not handle mediocrity and knew how to use the smartness of any situation. She was adulated by all her students. Furthermore, Anne was a very elegant and pretty woman, her blue eyes reflected the depth of her soul, she was just a “grande dame”! On 4 March 2022, she has left us in Quimper, Brittany, but she will be remembered.
Our condolences to her family.
4) Weber A. Annette, ein Heldinnen-Epos. Berlin, Matthes & Seitz 2020; französische Ausgabe: Weber A. Annette, une épopée. Paris, Éditions du Seiul 2020
5) Beaumanoir A, Martin F. Treatment of generalized epilepsy with acrisuxine. Confinia Neurol (Basel) 1969; 31: 198–206
6) Beaumanoir A, Ballis T, Varfis G, Ansari K. Benign epilepsy of childhood with Rolandic spikes. A clinical, electroencephalographic, and telencephalographic study. Epilepsia 1974; 15: 301–315
7) Beaumanoir A. Infantile epilepsy with occipital focus and good prognosis. Eur Neurol 1983; 22: 43–52
8) Thomas P, Beaumanoir A, Genton P et al. ʻDe novo’ absence status. Report of 11 cases. Neurology 1992; 42: 104–110
9) Ferrie CD, Beaumanoir A, Guerrini R et al. Early-onset benign occipital seizure susceptibility syndrome. Epilepsia 1997; 38: 285–293
10) Roger (Beaumanoir) A. Contribution à l’Étude Expérimentale de l’Épilepsie Partielle (Thèse, Marseille 1954). Paris, Masson 1955
11) Beaumanoir A. Les Épilepsies Infantiles. Problèmes de Diagnostic et de Traitement. Bâle (Basel), Editiones Roche 1976 (19802)
12) Beaumanoir A. Explorations Fonctionnelles Électrophysiologiques du Système Nerveux, Genève, Editions Médicine et Hygiene (MH) 1985
13) Beaumanoir A, Gastaut H, Naquet R, eds. Reflex Seizures and Reflex Epilepsies. International Symposium on Reflex Seizures and Reflex Epilepsies, Genève, Juin 1988. Genève, Editions Médicine et Hygiene (MH) 1989
14) Andermann F, Beaumanoir A, Mira L et al, eds. Occipital Seizures and Epilepsies in Children. Colloquium of the Pierfranco e Luisa Mariano Foundation. Mariana Foundation Pediatric Neurology Series: 1. London – Paris – Rome, J. Libbey 1993
15) Beaumanoir A, Bureau M, Deonna T et al, eds. Continuous Spikes and Waves during Slow Sleep. Electrical Status Epilepticus during Slow Sleep. Acquired Epileptic Aphasia and Related Conditions (Mariani Foundation Paediatric Neurology: 3). London – Paris – Rome, J. Libbey 1995
16) Beaumanoir A, Andermann F, Avanzini G, Mira L, eds. Falls in Epileptic and Non-epileptic Seizures During Childhood (Mariani Foundation Paediatric Neurology: 6). London – Paris – Rome – Sydney, J. Libbey 1997
17) Zifkin BG, Andermann F, Beaumanoir A, Rowan AJ, eds. Reflex Epilepsies and Reflex Seizures (Advances in Neurology, Vol 75). Philadelphia – New York, Lippincott – Raven 1998
18) Avanzini G, Beaumanoir A, Mira L, eds. Limbic Seizures in Children (Mariani Foundation Paediatric Neurology: 8). Eastleigh, J. Libbey 2001
19) Beaumanoir A, Andermann F, Chauvel P et al, eds. Frontal Lobe Seizures and Epilepsies in Children (Mariani Foundation Paediatric Neurology: 11). Montrouge, J. Libbey Eurotext 2003
20) Beaumanoir A, con la collaborazione di Costa P, Grioni D, Manfredi L et al. L’Anamnesi delle Crisi Epilettiche del Bambino (Fondazione Pierfranco e Luisa Mariani neurologia infantile ONLUS). Milano, F. Angeli 2004
21) Beaumanoir A, Roger J. Une histoire de l’épileptologie francophone. Montrouge – Esher, J. Libbey Eurotext 2007
22) Beaumanoir A. Le feu de la mémoire: La Résistance, le communisme et l’Algérie, 1940–1965. Saint Denis, Editions Bouchène 2009; deutsche Übersetzung: Beaumanoir A. Wir wollten das Leben ändern. Band 1. Leben für Gerechtigkeit. Erinnerungen 1923 bis 1956. Amélie-les-Bains – Hamburg, Edition Contra-Bass 2019 (reviewed by: Krämer G. Z Epileptol 2021; 37: 234–236)
23) Beaumanoir A. Wir wollten das Leben ändern. Band 2: Kampf für Freiheit. Algerien 1954 – 1965. Amélie-les-Bains – Hamburg, Edition Contra-Bass 2020
Günter Krämer, Zurich, and Pierre Jallon, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Photo: Dr. Stanley Zagury, Lausanne, about 2015 in Biarritz