The mechanism of seizure emergence and the role of brief interictal epileptiform discharges (IEDs) in seizure generation are two of the most important unresolved issues in modern epilepsy research. We found that the transition to seizure is not a sudden phenomenon, but is instead a slow process that is characterized by the progressive loss of neuronal network resilience. From a dynamical perspective, the slow transition is governed by the principles of critical slowing, a robust natural phenomenon that is observable in systems characterized by transitions between dynamical regimes. In epilepsy, this process is modulated by synchronous synaptic input from IEDs. IEDs are external perturbations that produce phasic changes in the slow transition process and exert opposing effects on the dynamics of a seizure-generating network, causing either anti-seizure or pro-seizure effects. We found that the multifaceted nature of IEDs is defined by the dynamical state of the network at the moment of the discharge occurrence.