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An exploration of epileptic and nonepileptic seizures : an interpretative phenomenological analytic study

Featherstone, Valerie Anne


Valerie Anne Featherstone


Peter Campion

Anna Sandfield


Differentiating epileptic seizures from non epileptic seizures (NES) has always been difficult. Seizures can look very similar, substantial physical injury and incontinence can occur in both conditions and people can have both conditions simultaneously. Treatment for each condition is very different however, epilepsy needing anti epileptic medication whereas NES is a psychologically rooted condition.

To develop previous work
To document a number of detailed seizures descriptions and to analyse these
using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA)
To identify linguistic markers to differentiate NES from epilepsy

This project used IPA as a more expansive method of 'history taking' being completely patient led. The approach and its theoretical antecedents have been described in depth in the thesis. Four newly referred patients with uncertain diagnoses were interviewed once, three twice. There was additional, contextual data.

The interpretation illustrated that subjective seizure experiences using IPA can contribute to previous work:
It heralded the potential beginnings of the development of an alternative 'seizure discourse' for lay and professionals.
It had the potential to contribute to patient information material and a screening tool.
It offered new ideas for clinical practice and research.

As an approach, IPA has the potential to combine its findings with those in the field of neurophenomenology in terms of expanding knowledge of corresponding subjective experiences.

Given that subjective experiences of people can help locate seizure foci, IPA has the potential for establishing itself as a qualitative scientific research approach in the area of seizure experiences.


Featherstone, V. A. (2010). An exploration of epileptic and nonepileptic seizures : an interpretative phenomenological analytic study. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Aug 29, 2012
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Medicine
Public URL
Additional Information Postgraduate Medical Institute, The University of Hull
Award Date Mar 1, 2010


Thesis (10.5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2010 Featherstone, Valerie Anne. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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