The role of doctor and patient in the construction of the pseudo-epileptic attack disorder

Abstract
Periodic attacks of uncertain origin, where the clinical presentationresembles epilepsy but there is no evidence of a somatic disease, arecalled Pseudo-Epilepsy or Pseudo-Epileptic Attack Disorder (PEAD). PEADmay be called a `non-disease', i.e. a disorder on the fringes ofestablished disease patterns, because it lacks a rationalpathophysiological explanation. The first aim of this article is tocriticize the idea, common in medical science, that diseases are realentities which exist separately from the patient, waiting to bediscovered by the doctor. We argue that doctor and patient construct adisease, and that the construction of the disease PEAD includes manynormative evaluations. The second aim is to provide insight into thesuffering of patients with PEAD. We focus on three aspects of thepatient, identity, autonomy and responsibility. We present somecharacteristic descriptions of (pseudo-)epileptic attacks by FjodorDostoevsky, Gustave Flaubert and Thomas Mann. We argue that diagnosingPEAD reduces a meaningful life event into an insignificant, thoughintriguing, medical phenomenon, and that the patient will not benefitfrom being diagnosed as having PEAD
Keywords autonomy  constructionism  disease concept  epilepsy  identity  pseudo-epilepsy  pseudo-epileptic attack disorder  responsibility  taxonomic realism  taxonomic scepticism
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