February 4, 2021

The Inside Experience of Epilepsy: An Essay About the Importance of Subjectivity

Abstract, originally published in Seizure

This essay addresses three aspects of the inside experience of epilepsy: i) the high semiological significance of subjective seizure symptoms, ii) the therapeutic consequences, both positive and negative, of subjective seizure experiences, and iii) the importance of recognizing the patient as the ‘inside expert’ of epilepsy.

Subjective symptoms are often not spontaneously reported but ignoring them may be associated with serious risks. They can be experienced as neutral, negative or positive, and this can have important consequences for therapy. Only patients have full and first-hand knowledge of subjective symptoms but an understanding of these symptoms and an adequate response to them requires expert assistance. The inside and outside views of seizures are different but of equal importance. To get the full picture, both are needed to supplement each other.

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