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René Soulayrol

The Stricken Child Understanding the epileptic child

Do epileptic seizures occur completely out of the blue? Or is there an underlying cause? How do epileptic children live with their bodies on a day-to-day basis? How do they understand the passing of time? Can epilepsy result in the impairment of the child’s intelligence? What are the links between epilepsy and neuroses or psychoses? What is the nature of an epileptic’s sexuality? What are the difficulties faced by the parents of an epileptic child? What happens when the child goes to school? Can epileptics be cured? This book springs from an attempt to understand the psychological behaviour of the epileptic child, and the efforts that the child must make in order to adapt and continue to live as normal a life as possible, in spite of the disease. It traces the child’s efforts to relate to society, school and family. Why a child? Simply because a child’s brain is more likely to incite seizures than an adult’s. But also because epilepsy touches upon the deepest levels of the child’s budding personality, blocking the development of his or her emotional life and hindering certain cognitive functions of the brain. A better understanding of the psychic implications of this neurological disease will enable scientists to produce more effective medication with which to treat epileptics.

René Soulayrol teaches child psychology in the Faculté de Medécine, in Marseille. For ten years, he worked at the Centre Saint-Paul, a European research and study centre specialising in child epilepsy. He heads the child-psychology service at the Hôpital Sainte-Marguerite, in Marseille, and was responsible for creating a video consultation in psychopathology for epileptic children and their families thirty-five years ago. The vast clinical material he collected as part of his consultations served as the basis for this book.