Center for Interdisziplinary Research

Anxiety, Seizures and Dissociation

Termin: January 6 - 8, 2005
Organizers: Jörg Bergmann, Elisabeth Gülich, Martin Schöndienst (all Bielefeld)

The cooperation group Communicative description and clinical representation of anxiety and fear. An investigation into the role of emotion in patients suffering from seizures and / or anxiety disorders held its concluding conference at the ZiF from 6-8 January 2005. The participants were scholars coming from various disciplines: linguistics, sociology, neurology (epileptology), psychiatry, psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. In their contributions, the members of the group presented the main results of six months of interdisciplinary cooperation (1 April-30 September 2004), whereas in the data sessions they demonstrated how they had proceeded in the analysis of video-taped doctor-patient-interactions and transcriptions.
The starting point of the group's research was the idea that verbal and non-verbal communication of fear and anxiety can offer new and important insights and achieve a better understanding of anxiety and panic disorders. The investigation was conducted by examining three groups of patients: patients suffering from epilepsy with anxiety auras, from panic attacks or from social phobia. The diagnosis for each patient consisted of in-depth-interviews, various psychiatric instruments and functional magnetic resonance tomography. The main concern of the group-which was qualified by one of the conference-participants as a "heroic enterprise"-was to work out the inter-relationships between the linguistic and the clinical dimensions of illness, personality and narrative identity. As in current classifications of anxiety and panic disorders (DSM or ICD) patients' subjective experiences of illness are neglected, the findings of the cooperation group will have practical implications for the diagnosis and therapy of epileptic seizures as well as of panic disorders.

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