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For centuries, people have talked of a powerful bodily disorder called migraine, which currently affects about a billion people around the world. Yet until now, the rich history of this condition has barely been told. 

In Migraine, award-winning historian Katherine Foxhall reveals the ideas and methods that ordinary people and medical professionals have used to describe, explain, and treat migraine since the Middle Ages. Touching on classical theories of humoral disturbance and medieval bloodletting, Foxhall also describes early modern herbal remedies, the emergence of neurology, and evolving practices of therapeutic experimentation.

Throughout the audiobook, Foxhall persuasively argues that our current knowledge of migraine's neurobiology is founded on a centuries-long social, cultural, and medical history. This history, she demonstrates, continues to profoundly shape our knowledge of this complicated disease, our attitudes toward people who have migraine, and the sometimes drastic measures that we take to address pain.

Deeply researched and beautifully written, this fascinating and accessible study of one of our most common, disabling, and yet often dismissed disorders will appeal to physicians, historians, scholars in medical humanities, and people living with migraine alike.

The book is published by Johns Hopkins University Press. The audiobook is published by University Press Audiobooks.

©2019 Johns Hopkins University Press (P)2019 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"A thorough and illuminating history of migraine...lively, scholarly..." (The Washington Post)

"The most comprehensive, well-researched, and in-depth history of migraine in existence." (Joanna Kempner, author of Not Tonight: Migraine and the Politics of Gender and Health

"A fascinating and very well-written book." (Matthew Smith, author of Another Person's Poison: A History of Food Allergy)

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  • 12-03-20

I listened to the Audible version narrated by Robin J. Sitten, whose reading I enjoyed

Before purchasing the Audiobook, I suggest you listen to the sample, because the narrator reads this more like a science textbook, which I prefer when I must pay attention to the reading. Unlike hard science books, this book has no references or illustrations that can be printed out prior to reading. I am up on physiology and have read several medically-oriented books about migraine.

Migraine is a prevalent neurological condition that’s underfunded, underdiagnosed, and under-treated—due to gender-based historical prejudice, cultural metaphors, and sexist stereotypes. In the medieval to early modern periods, migraine was taken seriously as a legitimate disease, but in the 18th century, there began a perceptible de-legitimization of migraine—first by association with miscellaneous nervous disorders, and then gradually skewing toward sensitivity, femininity, and weakness.

To this day, there is no cure. Some patients still must take opioids to manage severe migraine symptoms. There are medications that reduce symptoms of migraine attacks, but these medications don’t work for everyone. Although migraine has widespread social and economic impacts, in 2017 the National Institutes of Health allocated $51 million to smallpox—a disease eradicated in 1980—but only $19 million to migraine. To find out why this type of situation is allowed to continue, I recommend this book, “Migraine: a History.” If you are not a migraineur and/or if you prefer history-lite, you might look at other books before purchasing.

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