The stigma of epilepsy as a self-concept

Epilepsia. 1980 Aug;21(4):433-44. doi: 10.1111/j.1528-1157.1980.tb04091.x.


To study the extent to which persons with epilepsy feel stigmatized by the disorder, a sample of 445 individuals with epilepsy is analyzed. By first defining stigma in quantifiable terms and then by assessing the prevalence of stigma among the individuals studied, two alternative models that postulate the causes of stigma are investigated. The first model, a simple medical approach, assumes that because epilepsy is stigmatizing for an individual with the disorder, a direct relationship exists between the severity of the individual's seizure and the perception of stigma. The second model, a sociopsychological approach, assumes that the effects of seizure severity on the perception of stigma are mediated by other individual characteristics. The results of the study suggest, first, that persons with epilepsy do not universally feel stigmatized by the disorder. Second, by investigating the validity of these assumptions with regression and path analysis techniques, the findings support the premise of the sociopsychological model. The relationship between the severity of seizures and the perception of stigma due to the disorder is found to be highly dependent on other characteristics in the individual with epilepsy, such as the perception of employment discrimination, the perception of limitations imposed by the disorder, and the years of school attained by the individual.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Epilepsy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Concept*