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Behavioural Neurology
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 5025174, 9 pages
Research Article

Are “Theory of Mind” Skills in People with Epilepsy Related to How Stigmatised They Feel? An Exploratory Study

1Department of Psychological Sciences, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, University of Liverpool, The Whelan Building, Liverpool L69 3GL, UK
2Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology, Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool L69 3GL, UK

Received 15 June 2016; Revised 26 July 2016; Accepted 27 July 2016

Academic Editor: Gianfranco Spalletta

Copyright © 2016 A. J. Noble et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Feelings of stigma are one of the main burdens reported by people with epilepsy (PWE). Adults with temporal or frontal lobe epilepsy and children with idiopathic generalised epilepsy are at risk of Theory of Mind (ToM) deficits. ToM refers to social cognitive skills, including the ability to understand the thoughts, intentions, beliefs, and emotions of others. It has been proffered that ToM deficits may contribute to the feelings of stigma experienced by PWE. In this study we tested this for the first time. We also determined the association between clinical and demographic factors and ToM performance. Five hundred and three PWE were recruited via epilepsy organisations and completed measures online. Feelings of stigma were measured using Jacoby’s Stigma Scale, whilst the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test and the Faux Pas Test measured ToM. The median age of participants was 37 years, their median years living with epilepsy were 15, and 70% had experienced seizures in the prior 12 months. Feelings of stigma held a negligible, negative, and nonsignificant association with ToM performance (  −0.02 and ). Our results indicate that the ToM model for understanding epilepsy stigma has limited utility and alternative approaches to understanding and addressing epilepsy-related stigma are required.