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Not TonightMigraine and the Politics of Gender and Health$
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Joanna Kempner

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780226179018

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226179292.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2019

All in Her Mind

All in Her Mind

Chapter:
(p.24) Chapter One All in Her Mind
Source:
Not Tonight
Author(s):

Joanna Kempner

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226179292.003.0001

Migraine is a disorder that bridges the mind and body. In this chapter, I trace historical understandings of migraine from eighteenth-century theories of “sensibility,” to the nineteenth-century formulations as a disorder of upper-class intellectuals, to the influential concept of the “migraine personality” in mid-twentieth-century America, and finally to contemporary theories of “comorbidity.” This chapter pays close attention to how, at each historical turn, physicians have described the person with migraine has having a particular moral character and how this moral character has been encoded directly into medical knowledge. Medical knowledge has, thus, come to enact and reinforce cultural narratives about gender, class and pain. I argue that the credibility and the legitimacy of a disorder-and how much we, as a society, choose to invest in its treatment-is closely linked to how we perceive the moral character of the sufferer.

Keywords:   migraine, pain, moral character, gender, class, comorbidity, psychosomatic medicine, legitimacy, credibility, neurobiology

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