I would like to share information on seizures I have seen in my clients. The cause is trauma rather than brain wave irregularity. The following is information is from Dr. Meyers.
“Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures: A guide. Lorna Myers, Ph. D.
Signs of PNES
- Seizures seem to follow periods of stress.
- Very high number of seizures-as many as one or more daily;
- Repeated seizures-related hospital stays and/or emergency room visits.
- Lack of response to anti-epileptic medicines.
Psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES) look like epileptic seizures but do not demonstrate epileptiform activity during a brain wave recording with an electro-encephalogram (EEG) and are instead considered to be triggered by emotion. A video EEG is used to test for PNES.
Splitting of Awareness: Dissociation
The brain is an incredible organ. In extreme conditions it can actually activate or deactivate certain parts of itself. The process of deactivating is called dissociation. Dissociation is a very powerful defense mechanism often seen in those who have had extremely overwhelming experiences and undergone severe trauma. Essentially what happens is the conscious mind splits off from the “here and now” in order to protect itself. The individual may still be awake and even somewhat responsive but is actually detached. The mind has “gone away” in order to avoid the pain.
During dissociation, the body can become stiff and slow to respond, eyelids may flutter, there may be blank stare, and self-soothing behaviors (e.g. rocking or stroking oneself) can occur. Internally, the individual may feel like an observer, sense that the outside world is too slow/fast and seems unreal, suffer memory lapses and feel no sensation of pain.
People who have been brutally, repeatedly victimized over time may utilize dissociation on a somewhat regular basis. But while it’s a useful mechanism when one is being traumatized, it can also start to surface later on in response to much lower levels of stress and seriously disrupt one’s life.
In PNES, dissociation is a major part of the episode. The patient is often “removed” during the episode. PNES is often considered by mental health professionals to be a kind of “conversion disorder” which can overlap with dissociation. In this type of disorder, powerful emotional reactions are unconsciously converted into physical symptoms (grunting, far-off stares, loss of consciousness) or a ;motor event (convulsions, shaking). The symptoms might be as severe as blindness or paralysis and aren’t under the voluntary control of the patient. These symptoms can’t be explained by a medical/neurological condition, the effect of a substance, or culturally accepted behaviors (for example, in some cultures, grieving is commonly expressed through vigorous movement, altered consciousness and wailing). However, they are preceded or fueled by emotional conflicts or stressors. Of the four subtypes of conversion disorders, one of them produces “seizures or convulsions”. Most patients with PNES carry this diagnosis.