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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, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 19 February 2020

All in Her Brain

All in Her Brain

(p.51) Chapter Two All in Her Brain
Not Tonight

Joanna Kempner

University of Chicago Press

This book chapter analyzes the notion that migraine has recently undergone a paradigm shift-an idea that permeates headache specialists’ narrative retellings of their discipline’s own history. Headache specialists describe migraine as having undergone a revolutionary transformation from a condition “once believed to be a disorder of neurotic women,” but which is now understood as a “neurobiological disease.” Headache specialists are excited about this transformation, in large part because it allows them to leave behind a history that in many ways appears to be nonscientific, if not completely sexist. I argue, however, that this paradigmatic shift is driven, in part, by a professional desire to build a more credible and legitimate profession. In the meantime, I demonstrate that this move towards the brain has failed to de-gender migraine and instead has created a new, highly gendered “kind” of migraine patient-a person in possession of a hypersensitive, demanding “Migraine Brain.” I argue that the “Migraine Brain” is not much different than the psychosomatic migraine patient that researchers suggest it replaces, and, in fact, it reifies many of the gendered assumptions that psychosomatic medicine made.

Keywords:   migraine, pain, gender, neurobiology, psychosomatic medicine, biomedicalization, legitimacy, professions, credibility, science

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