The disease was considered a combination of hysteria and epilepsy. Charcot housed his "hystero-epilepsy" patients in the same ward as patients with epilepsy, because both were considered "episodic" diseases. At the time, both hysteria and epilepsy were believed to be neuroses; and diseases caused by the conversion of psychological distress into physical distress. Symptoms included "convulsions, contortions, fainting, and transient impairment of consciousness."
Joseph Babinski convinced Charcot that he was inducing the symptoms in his patients because of his treatment regimen.