Posts tagged “joanna kempner”

[I]n 1973, Seymour Diamond and Donald Dalessio, then codirectors of the famous Diamond Headache Clinic in Chicago, wrote that the inability of people with migraine to adapt represents the repressed hostility of the migraine patient. Joanna Kempner in Not Tonight I am actually pretty angry about having a painful and debilitating disease that most people […]

The internal milieu of the un-curable patient

The embrace of biochemical approaches meant the corresponding rejection of psychogenic theories. … That the efficacy of a medication should erode a psychosomatic theory is not surprising. This is a fairly common phenomenon. Several disorders understood to be psychosomatic (depression or stomach ulcers, for example) were reframed as somatic with the discovery of effective medication. […]

The migraine interactive kind

How did psychological theories come this far in migraine medicine? Judy Segal has argued that the explanatory power and popularity of the migraine personality could be attributed to its expansiveness — the migraine personality could describe almost anyone. The migraine personality became what Ian Hacking refers to as an “interactive kind.” Interactive kinds are categories […]

Just get me a fainting couch

He worried that so many migrainous women sought diagnostic tests and spent so much money on doctors when doctors had so few effective migraine treatments. The more appropriate role for the physician, he argued, would be to spend time with the patient, “in talking over her life problems and in showing her how to live […]

Men are sick, women are hysterical

…Wolff’s discussions of women and migraine were intriguingly limited, especially given that by then most physicians had agreed that women experienced migraines more often than men. Much like his Victorian predecessors, Wolff preferred to talk about headache disorders in the masculine. Likewise, his descriptions of migraine emphasized masculine anxieties about the rigors of work life. […]

Control the body

If, as Foucault argued, modernity was the act of disciplining bodies, then Wolff’s migraine personality was discipline in its extreme—a pathological reaction to the corporeal demands of power. His subjects’ neatness and fastidiousness, he wrote, was exceeded only by their efficiency. People with migraine loved order and repetition, feared failure, and resented interruptions. They created […]

Mental states influencing physical states wasn’t always interpreted as malingering

Wolff’s migraine personality was also informed by a burgeoning psychodynamic literature that viewed bodies as “systems of psychobiological adaptations.” Using this framework, migraine could be understood to be a protective device that provided a way for the body to withdraw from stressful situations. In fact, migraine was thought to be an especially useful adaptation for […]