This study addressed epilepsy patients' conceptions of epilepsy as a phenomenon and emotions related to those conceptions. Nineteen outpatients were interviewed, and data were analyzed according to the phenomenographical methodology. Patients described epilepsy in six qualitatively different ways: Epilepsy is (a) an illness related to physical disturbances, (b) a condition related to physical disturbances, (c) a mental disturbance related to lack of mental capacity, (d) a handicap related to psychological and/or social aspects, (e) an identity related to being an epileptic, and (f) a punishment. The emotions confidence, happiness, hope, and annoyance were related to epilepsy as an illness or a condition, whereas shame, fear, sorrow, and guilt were related to the other four categories. This study indicated that, to patients, the phenomenon of epilepsy is above all a psychosocial nature and in that dimension closely related to negative emotions.
Gerry Larsson, Lic. Psych. PhD, is a professor at the Department of Leadership and Management, Swedish National Defence College, Karlstad, Sweden, and at the Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway.
Bengt Starrin, PhD, is a professor at the Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Social Studies, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden, and at the Faculty of Health and Social Studies, Lillehammer University College, Lillehammer, Norway.
Bodil M. Wilde Larsson, RNT PhD, is a professor at the Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Nursing, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden, and at the Department of Nursing, Hedmark University College, Elverum, Norway.
Question or comments about this article may be directed to Lena K.A. Räty, RNT MNSc PhD, at firstname.lastname@example.org. She is a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Social and Life Sciences, Department of Nursing, Karlstad University, Karlstad, Sweden.