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SUMMARY

The study describes on-going family interaction patterns in 15 epileptic- member and 15 control families with a view to isolating differences which may be responsible for behaviour disorders in epileptic children. Categorisation of the speeches of family tetrads in a problem-solving situation revealed that epileptic -member families tended towards an autocractic matriarchal structure which is more efficient in problem-solving. The epileptic child was found to withdraw from family interaction. That form of organisation would appear to equip the family with a more secure structure to meet the family crisis while simultaneously meeting the dependency needs of the “sick” child. However, the relationship between this type of functioning and disturbed behaviour leads to speculation as to the long-term effects of such coping strategies.