I am 51, had a temporal lobectomy aged 36 (1997) and have not had any seizures since (medication was gradually withdrawn in the 2-3 years following surgery). I am currently in psychotherapy training, having completed a theology degree and realising the connections between, hippocampus, amygdala damage, my experience of febrile convulsions aged 18 months, ptsd and all the subsequent seizures from petit mal to status. I have spent 10-12 years working through trauma related issues and am coming out the other side! Now am interested in how I can use my experience (and training as a psychotherapist) to further the understanding of this condition. Do I write from a personal and creative perspective, enabling understanding from the inside? Is there somewhere that would be interested in my psychotherapy/theology background? Any ideas would be gratefully received.
Person's Gender: Female
Person's Age: 51
Hello. It sounds like you have a very unique history and training. What condition, specifically, are you referring to when you say you want to further your understanding?
Hi Doctor Bob,
In studying for psychotherapy training I have been learning about recent neuroscience (Cozolino) and how it relates to and informs psychotherapy. This is causing me to understand my own experience of temporal lobe epilepsy from a very different perspective than simply the medical perspective and ask questions as to how early trauma relates to brain development, hippocampus etc. This then causes me to ask what is available in terms of support especially psychotherapeutic support is out there for people especially children like myself who suffer or who have suffered this kind of condition? I guess I'm asking how the kind of experience I have had can be used to help broaden people's understanding of what it involves living with a condition like temporal lobe epilepsy; the understanding of doctors as much as patients and the counselling psychotherapy world. As my counselling and psychotherapy training informs my understanding so I am increasingly convinced there is an aspect to this condition, that simply wasn't understood in my case, and I suspect what goes for me goes for others too and remains not understood. One of the last things I remember the neurologist saying to me 10 years or so ago was that 1 in 3 with this kind of condition end up in psychiatric care. This statistic may have changed a bit but I suspect not much. I have been lucky enough to have the resources work out and understand the psychosocial implications of this condition and not end up in psychiatric care. I realise many do not begin to have the resources, emotional, financial, social, intellectual, spiritual etc to begin to do what I have done. I guess my real question is how do I use my experience either as a psychotherapist or in other ways, writing etc? I am asking you as a neurologist for your perspective what would help raise the understanding of this condition?
Excellent questions (and inspired!). It sounds like you have a lot to offer those with similar experiences not just because of the experiences you have had but because of your intellectual curiosity, your pursuit of understanding of this, and your desire to give of yourself to others.
I think you could take any one of several approaches. One would be to get trained and certified in neuropsychological testing. You could work in tandem with neurologists, gerontologists, psychiatrists, physiatrists, etc to test patients for cognitive issues surrounding their epilepsy, neurodevelopmental anomalies, even PTSD. This would give you a chance to interview patients and get to know them in a more intimate setting while contributing to a team approach to their treatment.
Here are just a few links that describe this kind of work.
Hello. Did you have a chance to review the above links? You could certainly start your own practice along these lines, working with children who have temporal lobe epilepsy and psychosocial issues related to cognitive processing or relationship difficulties. If you are more interested in a higher level approach to the neuroscience of the developing brain and the impact of temporal lobe epilepsy, trauma, PTSD etc, you might need to pursue a PhD with a mentor like Cozolino. This would allow you to write and teach about the subject for the benefit of those more directly involved in patient care. Have you tried contacting him? He obviously has a broad understanding of this field and could probably pinpoint where a person with your experience and training might best fit in.
Here is how you can contact him: http://gsep.pepperdine.edu/welcome/faculty/default.htm?faculty=lou_cozolino
Hello, Penny. Did I answer your question? Let me know if you have any follow up questions? I would be happy to assist you further.