The term ‘petit mal’ is out dated, like using ‘fits’ to describe a seizure. The correct term for it an absence seizure. These generally occur in children and are outgrown in time. Sufferers often have several a day without knowing or perhaps only realizing they’ve missed some time and the episodes last just a few seconds. The person will generally stop and stare into space and just as suddenly pick up where they left off a few seconds later with few or no side affects. Some experience headaches or sleepiness afterwards.