Epilepsy Talk

Wounds That Time Won’t Heal — Childhood Abuse and Epilepsy | May 22, 2021

All types of abuse — sexual, physical, and emotional (including verbal abuse and witnessing domestic violence) raise the risk of depression, anxiety and epilepsy-like symptoms.

Research featured in Harvard Mental Health Letter and published in The American Journal of Psychiatry looked at the damage that hostile words, and/or yelling can have on a child.

They found “words are weapons that can cause lasting wounds, especially when wielded by parents against children.

The damage is sometimes more serious and lasting than injuries that result from beatings”, say Harvard researchers reporting on a survey of young adults.

Basically, abuse releases a cascade of stress hormones which produces a lasting effect on brain signals.

Experiments at McLean Hospital, for example, show that patients with a history of abuse are twice as likely to show abnormal electrical activity as non-abused people.

And this abnormal electrical brain activity, in turn, resembles a seizure state, but doesn’t actually produce epilepsy.

Hippocampal Sclerosis

This is a very common (but often unknown) feature of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Changes in the hippocampus — the part of the brain that deals with stress, learning and memory — can be caused by hormones flooding the brain during and after a stressful episode.

But the BIG question is whether hippocampal sclerosis is the consequence of repeated seizures, or whether it plays a role in the development of the epileptic focus?

NESD — Non Epileptic Seizure Disorder

A non-epileptic seizure is a short burst of activity that changes how you move, think, or feel. It looks like an epileptic seizure but there are no measurable electrical changes in the brain.

Not surprisingly, many people have a history of sexual or physical abuse. 75% to 85% are women between the ages of 15 to 35.

It’s a serious condition that shouldn’t be ignored. With early diagnosis and treatment, future problems can be averted.

Psychogenic Non Epileptic Seizures

These seizures are caused by psychological trauma or conflict that has a lasting effect on your state of mind.

The Epilepsy Foundation explains that sexual or physical abuse is the leading cause of psychogenic seizures, where the abuse occurred during childhood.

A psychogenic seizure can be confused with a grand-mal seizure — with convulsions, falling and shaking.

Less often, a psychogenic seizure takes on the form of a complex partial seizure, with a temporary loss of attention.

Because of the reasons for these psychogenic seizures, mental health counseling is encouraged. The prognosis is good, with 60 to 70 percent of patients alleviated of seizure symptoms.

“Children love and want to be loved and they very much prefer the joy of accomplishment to the triumph of hateful failure. Do not mistake a child for his symptom.” — Erik Erikson

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  1. Reblogged this on Disablities & Mental Health Issues.


    Comment by Kenneth — May 22, 2021 @ 7:58 AM

  2. Learn about post-traumatic stress. Sometimes it’s intergenerational. If the list of PTSD symptoms sound familiar, consult a therapist whose specialty is trauma. Just any therapist won’t do, either for the diagnosis or for the therapy. Don’t wait for it to go away, because it won’t. It will stay and make you sick.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by HoDo — May 22, 2021 @ 8:25 AM

  3. “Never hurt a child who grows up to be an adult someday”,,, had been said in the ancient traditional heritage of my ancestors who never had an opportunity to go to elementary school, much less to advanced modern psychiatric universities.
    Obviously, the trauma could last a lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Gerrie — May 22, 2021 @ 3:41 PM

    • Could and does, speaking from personal experience. Does the quote have a source, Gerrie, or is it traditional enough that I could pass it on?

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by HoDo — May 22, 2021 @ 4:27 PM

      • HoDo,,, Thank you for asking.
        The traditional quote is part of a common heritage of the Abbysinian people living in the horn of Africa since the Biblical times, strictly advocating & protecting their deep faith in family values, community wellbeing & social standing for they believe it takes a village to raise a healthy child.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Gerrie — May 24, 2021 @ 2:08 PM

      • Gerrie, thank you for the nudge back to my university days, studying languages. I’ve been browsing happily through wikis about languages of Abyssinia with their beautiful writing systems, a mini-vacation. And thank you for the quote, which I will share.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by HoDo — May 24, 2021 @ 3:44 PM

  4. I am a doctor with epilepsy and want to create awareness and break stigmas about mental health in the society by sharing my experiences through my blogs @www.loveyourskull.com

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Vinti Govind — May 23, 2021 @ 9:49 AM

    • What a handsome site! Looking forward to more of your blog.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by HoDo — May 23, 2021 @ 10:30 AM

  5. Thank you so much for the response mam ….I hope I dont disappoint you ….I really look upto you mam 🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Vinti Govind — May 23, 2021 @ 10:46 AM

  6. This is what the first neurologist that I saw said was the cause of my epileptic seizures. It did take me a long time before I was able to forgive my parents. With good therapy, my religious beliefs, time, and some other people who loved me, I was able to. I won’t tell someone else what to do. God knows that when you have epilepsy, absolutely everyone is going to tell you what to do. Most of them don’t know what you are going through. However, I guess some of them are acting in good faith. The others I try to stay away from. If you are able to forgive someday, I sincerely wish you well. If you are not, I still sincerely wish you well. I understand the burden that you are carrying and I refuse to add to it. Please think of me occasionally.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by spunky1inmpls — May 24, 2021 @ 7:20 AM

    • I admire you. Such a wise, generous spirit. Being able to let go of anger is not easy. Sometimes it’s the toxic gas which propels one. Other times, it’s an unbearable weight.

      Your support is invaluable.

      Liked by 2 people

      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 24, 2021 @ 9:37 AM

      • Dear Phyllis, I have forgiven my parents for the child abuse that caused my epilepsy. It took years and not a few therapists. However, I am so blessed to have been able to get to the point where I was able to do that. And I am such a different person. People have told me that I am so peaceful. However, I have not been able to forgive that doctor. And I don’t know if I should. At least for now. When he died, I had visions of going to the cemetery, digging him up, and slapping him silly. Of course I didn’t do that. I applied to 100 places and when they heard that I had epilepsy, 96 Of the places didn’t want me. I was blessed to have 4 who did. And I chose the right place for me. However, I am not the only one that has been hurt by this doctor. I know of many. Plus what he believed about women and epilepsy is. still impacting lives today. Many years ago in my state, it was rather common for people who were out in public, had a seizure, and refused to be taken to the hospital to get arrested for
        Breach of the Peace, Disturbing the Peace, or Disorderly Conduct. (My doctor was terrific! He thought that being outside and living life,was more important than the sliight possibility of having a seizure.) Thank God, our Governor was kind enough to sign it into Law. I am trying to find out if you can get M. S.A., 609.72, subd. 3, 1987-8? edition on the marker in a Federal Cemetery. In 32 years. If I was a neurologist, I would be working on Gaslighting in Neurology. However, I just want to get a neurologist who who will listen to me and talk to me and try to get me the information that I need. Then the next 32 years can be even more happier than I anticipated them to be. Thank You Phyllis for your kind words. We are all in such need of them, during this time. However, I think it’s all the time. I hope you and your family have been able to avoid getting Covid19. I’ve been blessed to have received my shots. However, one of my sibs got it. We’re all at the dangerous age of our second childhood. This time around, I intend to have fun. I should have a screen name of Chatty Cathy. However, I have the honor to be: spunky1ínmpls

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by spunky1inmpls — July 28, 2021 @ 1:53 AM

      • Spunky, perhaps you’ll find the following articles to be of interest:

        The Stigma of Epilepsy… https://epilepsytalk.com/2021/05/05/the-stigma-of-epilepsy-2/

        Who’s at fault? https://wordpress.com/post/epilepsytalk.com/12904


        Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — July 28, 2021 @ 9:11 AM

    • Everyone tells you what to do, while at the same time, hardly anyone really listens to you. It’s as if, with the diagnosis, you are seen as being less intelligent or sensible.

      This forum is important because of the listeners and validators. Thanks to all.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by HoDo — May 24, 2021 @ 9:53 AM

      • Yes HoDo,,, This forum is certainly very important source of information & support for those of us who had been going through hell to find out the mistry behind our epileptic seizures & the struggle on how to cope will ALL the medical & psychological nightmares we had come to experience through out our difficult times.
        Sharing our experiences & learning from each other, we had come a long way in understanding how to survive the medical hardships & social misconceptions stigmatized to justify our neurological disorders.
        It’s good that who have each other to support in our difficult times.

        Liked by 1 person

        Comment by Gerrie — May 24, 2021 @ 2:52 PM

  7. Phylis, thanks so much for posting this topic. I know that part of the reason I continue to experience seizures is related to head injuries (at 1 year old & in a massive car accident)…. But I also know that the seizure patterns/ timing were very much related to sexual abuse. Speaking this for the first time brought me to saving faith in Jesus Christ. God, by His Grace alone, has provided what I needed to deal with the memories buried inside of my soul. It was a long, hard process, but I now have freedom & joy on the inside! And I am also married to a very caring Christian man (who is sold out to Jesus as well) for 2 years and 7 months. Yesterday during an EEG abnormal brain waves were still noted, and I still deal with the negative side effects to the medication that I am now taking… but I have never quit!! God’s strength is made perfect in all of my weaknesses. Shalom. Maire’

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Maire Archbold — May 27, 2021 @ 9:21 AM

  8. Bless you Marie for all your faith and strength. And for your perseverance in finding your own peace.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — May 27, 2021 @ 9:28 AM

  9. I’ve had epilepsy and anemia for 48yrs cause of a lack of oxygen and red blood cells to the brain and heart for 9min and almost died 4 times in my life
    Already And found that things if it’s not one of the issues it’s the othe being affected by the medications helping my seizures and nothing really getting better and my 4 deadliest seizure almost killed me in 8min and if I have the one like I had or as bad or heart problems I won’t make it
    So I know that my time is coming so it’s almost like why care about it anymore cause someone won’t believe or give you a chance to try to help or
    No one makes the effort to try to make things happen or better and it’s not like you mean anything to the people or the nation when you are forbidden to work ever again cause your epilepsy is so dangerous to your health and the government.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Scott Blackburn — February 1, 2022 @ 10:26 AM

    • Scott, I know you’re discouraged about your situation, and I agree you’ve been dealt a horrid deck of cards.

      Fear is only natural. But giving up is not the answer. You must advocate for yourself and be brave in the face of adversity.

      I know that’s easier said than done. But that’s what keeps all of us going. In the face of ignorance, discrimination, adversity, uncaring and indifference.

      It’s your fate and your future we’re talking about. Fight to make it right.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — February 1, 2022 @ 11:02 AM

    • Scott,
      In a world of freak accidents taking lives in few seconds, having overcome formidable odds for 48 years to make it this far, you got to believe you are strong enough like a rock to keep marching foreword carrying on with your life beating down the odds, like you did for 48 years.
      Therefore, count on your blessings & treasure the days that brought you all the way this far.
      Best wishes!

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Gerrie — February 1, 2022 @ 1:56 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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