Emotional Complications of Adolescent Grand Mal Epilepsy

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Twenty-five adolescents who had grand mal epilepsy were evaluated neurologically and were interviewed. Their parents were also interviewed. Better seizure control and less neurologic disability were unexpectedly associated with less open communication between the adolescents and theirfamilies and friends and with a poorer self-image and poorer expectations for the future. These findings were unrelated to IQ or school performance. This outcome is consistent with other studies of invisible defects and stigmatization and suggests that youngsters who have relatively mild defectsinvolving social disability may be more troubled than those with more apparent defects, for which denial may be operative. An incidental finding in the study was that a question more predictive of overall family, social, and academic function than the neurologic findings was simply whether or notthe youngster was attending the appropriate grade in school for his or her age.

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