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Epilepsy, Self and Society: A Study of Three Groups of Adolescent Epileptics

Oliver, Michael James (1979) Epilepsy, Self and Society: A Study of Three Groups of Adolescent Epileptics. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94560) (KAR id:94560)

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The major aim of this substantive study in sociology is to examine some of the societal, social and individual meanings associated with epilepsy and to look at some of the implications of these meanings both for society and for individuals. Like all other disciplines sociology has its own way of dividing up the world and this study draws upon three areas of this division, the sociologies of deviance, medicine and knowledge.

The experiences of three groups of adolescents with epilepsy are studied in depth; one group living in the community, one group serving sentences of borstal training and a third group who are associated with a hospital specializing in treating those with psychiatric problems.

Chapter One raises the fundamental question posed in this study, which is ’why do epileptics have trouble?' and suggests that the basis of such trouble is the way society treats the individual epileptic rather than any difficulties inherent in the illness itself. Chapter Two then examines some of the methodological issues relevant to doing interpretive sociology and describes the techniques used and developed during the research. Chapter Three studies some of the social meanings associated with epilepsy from a historical perspective and discusses how these meanings change over time. Chapter Four looks at some of the special (professional) views about epilepsy and attempts to relate these views to historical and personal experiences of the professionals concerned. Chapters Five and Six are squarely within the interactionist tradition and discuss the experiences of the three groups of adolescent epileptics utilizing the concepts of role and self. The final Chapter develops the concept of non-visible social deviance in relationship to social control in past and present society and suggests a number of reasons why epileptics do indeed have trouble.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Box, Steve
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94560
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2022 15:33 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2023 09:15 UTC
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