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Interaction patterns in the families of children with idiopathic epilepsy


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Ritchie, Karen Anne 1977 , 'Interaction patterns in the families of children with idiopathic epilepsy', Unspecified thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Behaviour disturbances in epileptic children are
currently recognised to be a function of a complex interaction
of physiological and environmental factors.
In cases of idiopathic epilepsy, family attitudes and
behaviour have been consistently demonstrated to be the
most significant causal antecedents of deviant behaviour.
However, this conclusion has been based almost entirely
on techniques designed to demonstrate psychological
abnormalities in the parents of epileptic children.
Consequently, theories derived from this research are
inadequate due to their reliance on the outmoded
conceptualisation of behaviour as a function of immutable
personality traits, and also due to their failure to
indicate therapeutic guide-lines.

The present study proposed an alternative model of
the effects of family behaviour on the adjustment of
epileptic children, based on family interaction and
social learning theories. The behaviour of epileptic
member families was conceptualised as the adaptive
reaction of an interdependent group to a crisis situation,
leading to alterations in the behaviour of the epileptic
child in the direction of conformity with the group.

The study employed a semi-structured interview and
videotaped observations of family interaction, initiated
by means of the Revealed Differences Technique. Thirty
family tetrads were studied, consisting of the parents,
and two children aged between 8 and 16 years. Of these,
fifteen contained an epileptic elder child and the
other fifteen served as a control group matched for
socio-economic status, religion, nationality, occupational
status of the mother, and the age, sex and birth order
of the siblings.

Analysis of the family interaction sequences
demonstrated that epileptic-member families formed
rigid hierarchical units with increased efficiency in
problem-solving. The mother emerged as a strong family
leader. The epileptic child was observed to take a position
of reduced involvement in family interaction
and to actively withdraw from family decision making.
The results support crisis theories of family behaviour
which maintain that in situations where family integrity
is threatened, a more stable and secure system of family
organisation is adopted.

The cross-sectional design of the study did not
permit the demonstration of a causal relationship between
family behaviour and the onset of behaviour disturbance
in the epileptic child. However, it demonstrated in
functional, behavioural terms, important differences
between epileptic-member and normal families which
strongly support such a casual relationsh1p and stressed,
therefore, the need for further research in this area.
The clinical value of the present study is discussed in
terms of the guide-lines these results offer for
clinical intervention techniques based on social learning

Item Type: Thesis - Unspecified
Authors/Creators:Ritchie, Karen Anne
Keywords: Epilepsy in children, Epileptics
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1977 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Bibliography: l. 173-193. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Tasmania, 1978

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