Hostility in children with idiopathic epilepsy
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The purpose of this study was to investigate repressive handling of conflicts around hostility in epileptic children. There has been a considerable amount of evidence, from clinical material, of severe conflicts around hostility in epileptics. It has been further indicated that epileptics utilize repressive methods of handling the conflicts and that they appear to be in a pent-up state emotionally. It has been demonstrated, from previous research, that conflict in a given area, which is handled by repressive methods of defense, will lead to the inhibition of learning of material related to the conflict. The general hypothesis formulated from these considerations was that epileptics would show cognitive inhibition of material with a hostile connotation and would show increased cognitive inhibition when hostility was induced. An epileptic group of twenty-five children and a normal group of thirty-two children, of ages seven-and-a-half to twelve-and-a-half, were selected. They were given the Rorschach Test followed by four word lists, two consisting of neutral words and two of hostile words, presented on a Gerbrand's design memory drum. The method of serial anticipation was used in presenting the lists. Half of each group was criticized before the second pair of lists was presented, in a manner calculated to induce hostility. The operational predictions were as follows: Prediction 1· The epileptics will require more trials than will the normal group in learning the hostile list of words before hostility is induced. Prediction 2. The epileptic and normal groups will require more trials in learning the second list of neutral words after hostility is induced. Prediction 3· The epileptic and normal groups will both require more trials in learning the second list of hostile words after hostility is induced. Prediction 4. The normal group will have equal difficulty in learning the second neutral and hostile lists after hostility is induced. Prediction 5· The epileptic group will require more trials in learning the second list of hostile words than the second list of neutral words after hostility is induced. The results of the experiment supported only the fourth prediction, which was not a central one in the study. Further statistical analyses, which took into account hostile drive strength scores as well as management of hostility and rate of learning, also failed to show group differences in these measures or differential learning of the hostile and neutral material within or between the two experimental groups. Criticism of performance was found to have a significant detrimental effect on the learning of the second hostile list but not on the second neutral list, when the data for all subjects were combined. Thus the clinical finding of repressive handling of conflicts around hostility in epileptics was not experimentally confirmed in children with idiopathic epilepsy. The results of the present study do not disprove the possibility that hostility is involved in the development and precipitation of seizures, but they do indicate t hat children with idiopathic epilepsy do not show significant differences from normal children on measures of hostile drive strength or of the management of hostility. The findings leave open several possibilities for alternative explanation of the relationship between hostility and epilepsy. One among such alternatives is that of a hypothesis which would relate hostility to a more immediate and direct discharge in a seizure than would be involved in the repression hypothesis. [TRUNCATED]
Thesis (Ph.D)--Boston University.
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