Journal of Pediatric Epilepsy
DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-1767735

Use of Bibliotherapy in Patients with Epilepsy

1   Divisions of Pediatric Neurology and Genetics, and Behavioral-Developmental Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, Meram Medical Faculty, Necmettin Erbakan University, Meram, Konya, Türkiye
› Author Affiliations

Biblio is a combining form occurring in loanwords from Greek (bibliography). On this model, biblio is used in the formation of compound words with the meaning “book” (bibliophile), and sometimes with the meaning “Bible” (bibliolatry, on the model of idolatry).[1]

Bibliotherapy (also referred to as book therapy or reading therapy) uses reading materials to help solve personal problems or for psychiatric therapy. It is guidance in the solution of personal problems through directed reading.[2] Bibliotherapy, as an adjunct to treating medical and psychological problems, has a long history in the library science literature.[3] Bibliotherapy may benefit patients with problems of living such as dealing with life crises and transitions, parents, and children, parenting, coping with illness and disability, death and dying, lifestyle modification, sexuality, and coping with feelings.[3] However, most physicians do not know bibliotherapy, and it is rarely used in clinical practices. Epilepsy is a disease characterized by an enduring predisposition to generate epileptic seizures and by the neurobiological, cognitive, psychological, and social consequences of this condition.[4] Herein, we discussed the use of bibliotherapy in patients with epilepsy to attract attention to the importance of bibliotherapy in clinical practice.

Using books to improve mental well-being and facilitate health promotion are concepts that have long been recognized in librarianship.[5] Sadie Peterson Delaney (1889–1958) was the chief librarian of the Veterans Administration Hospital and a pioneer in her work with bibliotherapy.[6] She defined bibliotherapy as, “the treatment of patients through selected reading.” Delaney's most significant accomplishment was in the techniques she developed and experimented with in using library materials and activities to rehabilitate hospital patients, especially mental patients.[7] Sadie Delaney conferred with doctors and psychiatrists to learn the backgrounds and problems of patients. Then based on this information, she visited patients on wards with the book cart to interest them in reading and to tell them about the special groups and clubs that met in the library.[7]

Several reasons have been noted for using bibliotherapy: improving an individual's self-awareness and self-understanding and increasing understanding and empathy for others. Bibliotherapy can also help relieve stress, provide successful coping strategies, and help an individual to be able to express both feelings and ideas about a problem or difficulty.[8] Whether the texts are fiction, aiming to promote relaxation and enjoyment, or nonfiction self-help books, providing information and insight to patients with long-term conditions such as depression, diabetes, or epilepsy, the social value of texts is widely appreciated.[5] Pawlowska-Jaron[9] also noted that bibliotherapy might be used in patients with epilepsy.

Neuropsychiatric comorbidities, including depression, anxiety, psychosis, cognitive impairment, autism, and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures, are common and underdiagnosed among people with epilepsy, impacting clinical outcomes. Biological, psychological, and social factors contribute to the association of epilepsy with neuropsychiatric comorbidities, and there is evidence of shared underlying pathophysiology.[10] Recently, Mendel et al[11] noted that bibliotherapy might be useful in helping children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder; anxiety and perfectionism; boundaries, sexual abuse, and inappropriate touching; emotions, behavior, anger, and self-control; having a parent with mental illness; obsessive compulsive disorder; and trauma and domestic and family violence. Mendel et al[11] have also developed a database of recommendations of some appropriate and valuable books for children on these topics. The database can be found at We have observed that many physicians suggested the book entitled “Message for the Sick”[12] written by Bediüzzaman Said Nursi[13] to patients with neuropsychiatric disorders, including epilepsy. However, no clinical studies have been published regarding the use of bibliotherapy in neuropsychiatric comorbidities such as depression, anxiety, and psychogenic nonepileptic seizures in epilepsy patients in the literature, according to the best of our knowledge.

In conclusion, based on the literature data, we believe that bibliotherapy may be helpful in the treatment of neuropsychiatric comorbidities, seen among patients with epilepsy. Randomized controlled studies, including large series, should be performed about the effects of bibliotherapy in epileptic patients. We think the studies to be done by using the book titled “Message for the Sick” would be original.

Author's Contribution

H.Ç. conceptualized, designed, and wrote the editorial. H.Ç also did the literature search.

Publication History

Article published online:
28 March 2023

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