The condition of epilepsy is one of many neurological conditions that affects millions of people worldwide. Epilepsy is a neurological disorder concerning chemical imbalances within the brain. Since the brain processes emotions which lead to behavior, it only makes sense that personality and epilepsy could be related.
Psychological factors that epilepsy could affect may be mood and behavior, or even personality traits of an individual. Here we look at the relationship between personality and epilepsy. This includes overall quality of life, and other psychological factors.
Causes of epilepsy
Epilepsy is caused by a imbalance in the chemistry of the brain concerning neurons and neurotransmitters. This is what is considered epilepsy, but other factors can cause seizure like actions as well.
This includes mainly psychological events and ones’ thought process. The medical condition of epilepsy is a “silent’ medical condition, meaning that unless you witness an individual having a seizure, they appear normal as if nothing is wrong.
In the majority of individuals’, seizure frequency can be and is controlled by anti epileptic drugs. This is not always the case though. At times there may be specific triggers for an individual prior to a seizure occurring which may originate through the subconsciousness.
When there is a psychological aspect involved this is considered a non epileptic event. In order to control these, one must determine the root cause of the events concerning their thoughts and emotions. Things such as behavioral therapy, and even some self-help therapies can be used for this.
Epilepsy and outlook
If you are an individual that sees the solution to something, as opposed to looking at the problem, this is an optimistic attitude and one’s quality of life is much higher than compared to one who views the problem as opposed to a solution to the problem.
Although this is true, even those with a positive outlook or optimistic personality can at times struggle with the issues of anxiety and depression.
Because at times, an overload of mental, emotional, or psychological stress can be a trigger to a seizure, in many ways it is like a continuous cycle. If one is not able to control their thoughts or feelings, a seizure could occur.
As a result of having a seizure, it may lead to depression or anxiety if you are unable to handle the situation and take control over it. This may indicate a continuous cycle. You should mention it to your neurologist so they may work along with a psychologist in order to take control of the seizures.
Openness and epilepsy
When looking at the difference between an individual with epilepsy, than compared to the general population concerning personality, an individual with epilepsy may be more introverted concerning their personality.
One study looked at the overall level of quality of life for individuals with epilepsy compared to individuals’ within the community without epilepsy. This looked at differences in how individuals’ adjusted to having epilepsy and the role of personality involved.
A questionnaire was taken concerning five big personality traits by 121 seizure patients including seizure frequency, and severity level of seizures that the individual had. Similar comparisons between the community and epilepsy patients were made concerning the age and sex of the subject (ie males compared to males and same age).
Results showed a higher level of neurotocism and a lower level of openness in those with epilepsy, with the severity being positively related to neurotissism and negatively related to agreeableness. (4) This suggests personality playing an important role in the adjustment of having epilepsy.
Effects of epilepsy on work
Although many are unaware, individuals’ with epilepsy are faced with the challenge of overcoming discrimination in many work environments.
Many individuals’ are even scared to mention to a potential employer that they have the condition due to the chances of not being considered a candidate for the position. Many times, because of the epilepsy, the quality of work may be effected for the individual.
One study looked at dysfunctional personality beliefs and it’s affect on work performance.(3) This study took place over an eleven month period. Fifty two patients both epileptic and control were given numerous tests and questionnaires.
Results showed the epilepsy group having a higher level of narcxistic, borderline, paranoid, anti social, schizoid, and histrionic tendencies. This led to executive functions being impaired and suggests the importance of psychological rehab and treatment for those with epilepsy.
Epilepsy and one’s’ ego
Ones’ personality is what makes them who they are concerning mood and outlook on life. Although many individuals are able to control this when dealing with a medical condition, many times, the condition one has may determine partially at least their personalities.
One must realize this in order to not allow the condition to affect who they are to too much extent. Although it is part of who you are, you don’t want it to be the main thing others see about you.
Your ego shows your level of self-confidence, and although many times individuals’ allow this to go too far, it is an important part of the individual as well concerning a defense mechanism.
There are three main types of defense mechanisms, mature, neurotic, and immature. Mature one’s include: sublimation, humor, suppression, and anticipation.
Immature defense mechanisms include: projections, passive aggression, acting out, isolation, devaluation, denial, and displacement. Neurotic includes: ideaition and reactive formation.
One study looked at the most frequently of these used in patients with epilepsy. It was found epileptic patients used both neurotic and immature defensive mechanism significantly more. This may indicate the individual with epilepsy having trouble adapting to new situations. (2)
Overall affects of epilepsy
Just like any medical condition, that of epilepsy brings along with it different challenges to overcome. Although these may be difficult to deal with, a large part of how it affects the individual has to do with one’s’ attitude and outlook concerning the situation.
Having epilepsy can affect different areas including both personal traits or the personality of an individual. The way it is dealt with depends partially on ones personality type.
Although this is true, the condition has been shown to effect different personality traits and factors as well. (1) These negative affects can occur, but the individual shouldn’t let it define them. Different types of therapies can be used to help in changing ones personality and attitude, helping them control their condition of epilepsy.