Gravity's Rainbow

botany, shoes, books, and justice

March 8, 2018
by sarcozona
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I’ll wear the slinky dress and give up my art if you’ll invest in migraine research

In general, online communities embrace the biomedicalization of migraine, perhaps even more than their  doctors do, in the service of legitimating migraine as a socially sanctioned disease — since they extend the  neurobiological paradigm beyond what biomedical evidence currently supports. … Continue reading

March 2, 2018
by sarcozona
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Pain obliterates identity, but the loss of identity in chronic illness isn’t simply a function of pain. It is also a result of constant gaslighting about the experience of your own body. Pain is a mysterious and terrifying force. It makes sense that pain destroys us. Being told by a loved one that you are faking because you’re lazy doesn’t. That does more invidious, insidious damage.

[P]eople who experience subjective symptoms that cannot be objectively confirmed by biomedicine often have their experience contested by medical professionals, employers, friends, and family. They experience a kind of “double disruption” in their lives. Not only does chronic illness disrupt their taken-for-granted world, but the skepticism that so often accompanies these illnesses can lead to a breakdown of the normal experience of self, leaving them feeling marginalized and alone. Since women are systematically less likely to be believed when they complain about pain, this experience is highly gendered. As sociologist Kristin Barker argues, when the world refuses to acknowledge and validate suffering, people can start to question their own sanity. Which is to say, persistent delegitimation—the experience of living among relentless doubt— can break down one’s voice, one’s sense of self, one’s very identity.

Joanna Kempner in Not Tonight

October 24, 2016
by sarcozona
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Migraine may affect my personality, but my personality didn’t give me migraine

Anna Eidt wrote recently about the “migraine personality,” an old and sexist idea that still influences how migraines are perceived and treated. It’s a succinct discussion and debunking of the idea. The “migraine personality” was coined in the early 20th century … Continue reading

June 26, 2016
by sarcozona
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Theorists writing about the social construction of illness have argued that legitimacy in medicine is primarily dictated by a reductionist epistemology—that is, in Western societies, diseases are legitimate when real, and “real” refers to symptoms that can be linked to an identifiable, biological pathology. 38 Ideally, the pathology should be “specific,” meaning that the pathology ought to uniformly produce a typical outcome in any man or woman no matter what his or her setting. In this reductionist view, which is based on germ theory, diseases are able to exist outside of individuals, independent of their manifestation in any particular person, and abstracted from social environments.

Joanna Kempner in Not Tonight

If you respond to the physical or social enviornment differently than other people, are you sick? Is it always bad to respond differently? What does it mean to be ill? Who gets to say you are ill?

June 24, 2016
by sarcozona
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Although neurobiology offers a biological explanation for migraine, this explanatory framework may have less power to legitimate migraine if it is understood in terms that replicate already existing assumptions about men and women in pain.

stakeholders’ best attempts to legitimate migraine are undermined by cultural meanings of headache and migraine that are overlaid with assumptions about gender. These gender assumptions overdetermine how medical knowledge about headache disorders is produced, disseminated, and used.

Joanna Kempner in Not Tonight

Lady pain isn’t real pain.

June 23, 2016
by sarcozona
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Not Tonight examines how migraine can simultaneously disrupt so many lives and continue to be questioned and trivialized by the culture at large. Why do some kinds of pain generate deep sympathy and hefty economic investment, while other kinds are ignored? Why do we privilege and even praise some sorts of pain, while others are perceived as unimportant? Why does some people’s pain matter more than others? Why, for example, are endurance athletes who suffer for their successes celebrated as heroes (even as they choose and train for such pain), while people who live in chronic pain (also a feat of endurance, and one for which there is no finish line) are dismissed as “whiny” or weak willed? Sometimes, a particularly severe headache attracts attention (and sympathy) as a symptom of something more serious, like an aneurysm or a stroke. But much of the time, migraine is seen as a “silly excuse.” That the medical recasting of migraine as a neurobiological disorder has not altered this cultural configuration highlights the social contests that surround migraine’s legitimacy and
cultural significance.

Joanna Kempner in Not Tonight

Not Tonight is SO GOOD. I’m probably going to quote half the book on here by the time I’m done with it. If you have migraine, especially chronic migraine, I highly recommend getting a copy.