All in Her Brain
All in Her Brain
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.
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