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Understanding experiences of spirituality in temporal lobe epilepsy

Study title

Understanding experiences of spirituality in temporal lobe epilepsy


Psychology Department, Faculty of Health & Society, University of Northampton, UK

About the study

Research shows that that there is a connection between epilepsy and religion and/or spirituality, known since early recorded history. Over time, this relationship has been understood as a specific feature of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Sometimes, people with temporal lobe epilepsy have experiences during their seizures that are unlike their ordinary waking experience. Although they are hard to explain in ways that other people might understand or appreciate, they have been described as ‘mystical’, ‘spiritual’, ‘cosmic’ and ‘ecstatic’. It can feel as if nobody else has ever had a similar experience. Worryingly, it can also feel like these experiences are a sign that something has gone wrong or isn’t working properly.

In this project, we aim to explore the features of these experiences with a range of individuals with temporal lobe epilepsy. We want to discover how people having these experiences interpret and make sense of them

We are very interested in the nature of your experience and what it means to you. In this study, your understanding of your spiritual experiences is more important than how anyone else may explain them. You can interpret spiritual in whatever way makes sense to you – we do not specify what counts as spiritual.

When will this study be recruiting?

June 2017 - October 2017

What will participants be asked to do?

Once you have expressed an interest in the project, the principal researcher, Louise King, will contact you by telephone to discuss the study and answer any questions. You will be sent a participant information sheet, which outlines all of the details of the project. This will help you to make an informed decision about whether or not you would like to participate.

If you do agree to participate, we will invite you to take an individual face-to face-interview. This will be arranged at a time and place to suit you. It is very important that you feel comfortable and that this location is private.

The interview will last around an hour. The first part will be used to complete some very basic information about you. You do not have to answer any questions or give any details that you don’t want to.

Who can take part?

You can take part if you:

• Are aged 18 or above

• Have temporal lobe epilepsy and experiences that you believe to be spiritual (whatever that means to you)

How will my data be used?

All of your details will be kept securely and confidentially. We will record your interview, then everything you say will be written down. When that has been done, the recording will be destroyed. Your details will be kept confidential by the changing your name to a false one. We will also change any other details that might identify you, such as your location.

We will use quotes from your interview, using a false name, in academic talks and papers. This will help researchers and medical professionals have a better understanding of the experiences that you describe.

Who is conducting the research?

Principal Researcher – Ms Louise King, Senior Lecturer in Psychology & Counselling – who has temporal lobe epilepsy herself, Dr Chris Roe, Professor of Psychology and Dr Elizabeth Roxburgh, Senior Lecturer in Psychology

Who has reviewed this study?

University of Northampton Research Ethics Committee


Please contact us for more information: Louise King: louise.king2@northampton.ac.uk Chris.Roe@northampton.ac.uk

Event Date: 
Tuesday 12 May 2015 - 13:49

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