When this title was first published in 1971, there were about 300, 000 people with epilepsy in England and Wales. Nearly one-third of them were children. This book is an integrated review of how epileptic children behaved, and of how they were regarded by parents, teachers and peers at the time. Written by a sociologist with a training in psychology, human biology and education, the book draws on several disciplines – sociology, psychology, biology – in seeking to understand the complex determinants of deviant behaviour in children with epilepsy.
The author considers in detail the lives of 118 epileptic children, bringing together and analysing a wide range of measurements of behaviour, social relations and abnormalities of brain function. He discusses how the children fare in school, and how epilepsy affects both the teacher’s perception of the child and the child’s scholastic performance. The dearth of medical centres which could diagnose and treat epilepsy at the time is examined, and hospital use according to parents’ social class is analysed. The author looks at the role of parents of epileptic children and shows that their attitude to epilepsy is of major importance for the child’s adjustment. The prejudice to which epileptic children and adolescents were subjected by the world at large is chronicled in detail.
Finally the author considers how his empirical material makes a contribution to the theoretical problem of integrating sociology, psychology and biology into a single discipline concerned with the explanation of human social behaviour.