Staff Achievements

Louise Spiers was awarded her PhD!

Dr Louise Spiers, a member of the EECS Research Group, was recently awarded her PhD in Psychology.

Louise’s thesis examines spiritual experiences of individuals with epilepsy. Western medical approaches to epilepsy concentrate on diagnosis and compliance with medical regimens and assume that patients desire a cure, partly because the condition is highly stigmatised. By contrast, some people with epilepsy report subjectively meaningful experiences related to their seizures which they feel are spiritual and have transformed their lives. These experiences and the spiritual meaning are lacking in the literature. Louise’s thesis explores the tension between the perspectives of the biomedical literature and the experiences of people with epilepsy.

Key findings from the research include the need for clinicians to be aware that their understanding of epilepsy in purely medical terms can exacerbate tendencies for the condition to be pathologized and stigmatised, neglecting mystical aspects of the experience that may not be purely a consequence of organic dysfunction. Participants who had these experiences prized them highly and prioritized them over seizure control. Spiritual experiences are seen as contributing to participant well-being.

She is very excited to be able to start dissemination into the wider community. She hopes to be able to normalise these experiences by talking to individuals with epilepsy, as well as presenting her findings to the medical and academic communities.

Louise is shown here just after her viva, with two of her supervisors, Prof Chris Roe and Dr Melinda Spencer, the photograph was taken by her other supervisor, Dr Liz Gulliford.

Dr Louise King

Dr Louise King, flanked by supervisors Prof Chris Roe (left) and Dr Melissa Spencer (right)

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