Posted by: docdenbow | May 18, 2011

Hobbies, Laziness & Classic Epileptic Personality?

You know how when men are of a certain age, they are supposed to have hobbies? Well I don’t. Not one. I have a lot of things that I’m interested in but I don’t have hobbies. Perhaps I would be a more rounded individual if I had hobbies or pastimes. I don’t know.

The thing is I watched a programme the other night presented by, and in many senses about, Fred Dibnah. (If you’ve never heard of him try looking at Wikipedia.) He was a man with hobbies – steam engines, coal mines, 19th century technology in general. These hobbies seemed to give Fred enormous pleasure, but also when I’ve read about him they seem to have come at some personal cost. Read about him yourself, you may or may not agree.

This is what I am getting to. Do I have no hobbies because I have been somehow been emasculated by my family committments? Do I have no hobbies because I have a very narrow circle of friends and am somewhat insular? Am I any the worse as a person because of this? Would my life be any better and fulfilled if I had a few interests and things I look forward to for times when I am away from work?

The problem of that type of thought is that it is possible to lead you down the road of thinking that unstructured activity is a general panacea and the root of true contentment. I think the root of true contentment is to live in the “now” and to be comfortable in your own skin. It’s true that I have moments where I don’t live in the “now” and am far from comfortable in my own skin. I have soul searched as to why that may be. I really don’t believe I am any closer to any kind of answer than when I began my self examination.

Perhaps I have an answer. I have epilepsy. Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy, there I’ve said it. Is that the answer?Now there is a school of thought that there is a “classic epileptic personality.” Is that me? Does it explain me? I don’t know. What I do know is that the medication that I take to control my seizures is also used to treat people with bi polar disorder. (Manic depression as it used to be called)

I found this on the internet @

“Epilepsy has significant effects on the behavior of most people who have it. In some cases the seizure activity itself is manifested as a brief change or interruption in behavior that might appear unusual to the casual observer. Evidence also suggests that epilepsy can affect behavior when seizures are not occurring. Descriptions of interictal (between-seizure) behavior in people with epilepsy have a long and controversial history. Through the ages, those with epilepsy have been thought to be either blessed with divine powers or marked by evil. Through the 19th century, many considered them insane or thought they had reduced mental and moral powers. The level of public misconception has decreased over time, but many biases about epilepsy and its resulting behavior continue to this day.

Through the 20th century, many writings in the field of psychiatry referred to “the epileptic personality,” an interictal syndrome thought to include explosive impulsivity, affective viscosity (the tendency to prolong interactions with others), and egocentricity (overriding concern with the self). Some thought that this syndrome was the result of underlying neurologic factors, but others felt that these personality traits represented a distinct form of epilepsy in themselves. At the time, it was felt that intensive psychoanalytic therapy was the most appropriate treatment for this condition.

More recently, Dr. Norman Geschwind introduced the characteristics of the “interictal personality disorder” to the neurological community. He felt that a number of specific personality characteristics were frequently seen in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy and that they were characteristic of such patients. These traits included deepened emotions, circumstantial thought (overly detailed, with delay in getting to the point), increasing concern with philosophical or religious beliefs, and a change in sexual behavior. Dr. Geschwind and a colleague published these observations in a major journal in 1975.

Bear and Fedio extended Geschwind’s observations to include a total of 18 behavioral features:

Altered sexual interest
Anger and hostility
Hypergraphia (excessive writing)
Philosophical interest
Sense of personal destiny

Now I recognize in myself several of those features, does that make me crazy, or a victim of of my epileptic condition – or just someone looking to make excuses for himself?

Ciaow For Now




  1. I appreciated your comment on my blog, and am gently suggesting that you might want to take a look at my book, “Broken Consciousness: Reflections of an Epileptic.” It’s poetry, and available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I read all your “twaddle” (not twaddle at all), and although I’ve had grand mal seizures for 54 years, E is E. I’d be interested in talking again.

  2. I lost my brother to epilepsy in 2006 really it was the medicine that killed him. A life of battling only to die with heart failure. Anyway my heart brakes for anyone dealing with this. There are natural cures for epilepsy that are defiantly worth trying.

    God Bless Good Luck

    • I am so sorry to hear of your brother, I guess I’ve been lucky with my meds.

      You may be interested to read about “my story” on my blog…..just my experience of living with epilepsy

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