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“Migraine Personality”myth once again rears its ugly head

My mom just gave me a special news insert from Florida Today‘s newspaper from mid-June. The small publication is called USA Weekend: HealthSmart, and I have every reason to believe it accompanied not only the Florida Today newspaper but also USA Today and any other papers the overseeing company owns.

Dr. Seymour Diamond (of the NHF and the famous Diamond Clinic) debunks a handful of myths about Migraine disease. Like the other short articles in the publication, a half-page or so is dedicated to each health condition and set up as a series of true-false questions. For example, in an article about sleep, the myth is something like, “Teenagers need the same amount of sleep as adults.” Truth: No, they need more.

Okay, fair enough.

But the Migraine article’s supposedly debunked myths are of a different ilk, especially the last one that have left me flying into a near-rage. I did a search online for reactions to this article and, as far as I’ve found, it’s not being covered by Migraine advocates and/or bloggers–and it should be.

Myth: There is no such thing as a “migraine personality.”
Diamond’s expert opinion? That there IS a migraine personality!

What year is this? What is happening? I’m reminded of a March 2007 post from Kerrie at the Daily Headache about the ridiculous idea that there is a specific Migraine personality. (In a rush so will have to link to it later–sorry. Fingers are flying to write this even though I’m supposed to be out the door!)

Check out the article here, and let me know what you think. I hate to know that thousands upon thousands of national newspaper readers have stumbled across such a gross error and, without being armed with well-founded knowledge about headache disorders, will agree with Dr. Diamond.


This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • leroth
    6 years ago

    I went to the Diamond Headache Clinic and it was a total waste of time and money.

  • Anonymous
    11 years ago

    I have known many people who are
    madly clean, Windex- everything types, high-achieving type A personlities,and individuals who are easily stressed out by just about everything. But yet! These good folks do not have migraines. Why not?
    For what it’s worth, I think that trying to accomplish everything we have to do on a good day, in anticipation of the next day when we can’t function normally because of a headache, can be overwhelming and a bit depressing in and of itself. At least we have a cool new name now. Migraineurs.

  • Karen
    11 years ago

    I’m more in the “creeped out” camp after reading Dr. Diamonds comments. I’m kind of in two minds about the migraine personality thing though. It seems clear that certain people have a tendency to suffer from migraines. I have a genetically inherited form (Familial Hemiplegic Migraine) which I have inherited from my Mum. My brother also has it. My idea is that personality does have something to do with it all but I don’t think its a cause. I am a very organised, list making, attention to details person and I suffer quite badly from migraines. My brother on the other hand who also has the same genetic fault is laid back, can’t organise himself out of a paper bag kind of person and he only suffers from migraine once in a blue moon and only when he is under extreme stress. So I think that a persons response to stress is important in their migraine problems. But Dr. Diamond is just off the planet. I put him in the same bucket with the doctor who literally told me to take an aspirin and have a lie down…

  • Maritime Gypsy
    11 years ago

    usually young, petite, compulsive, neat individuals who keep long lists

    if I have lists I lose them, I am hardly petite… my mom was does that count… I am more impulsive than compulsive… neat… pfff I wear wrinkels because I think Ironing is a conspiracy!

    I think there is a personality, though it’s the type that doesnt’ put up with BS… the ‘drink water and lie down, how about an asprin… well if you exercised more…’ sorry, I’ve had migraines since I was six… it doesn’t just ‘hurt’ any more it’s an experience unto itself… hippies couldn’t pay for the kinda trips I’ve been on!

    sorry… yes it made me grrrrr as well.

  • NorthStar12
    11 years ago

    I’m not sure whether to be insulted, complimented, or creeped out. For better or worse, the migraine personality is me. It may be a generalization, but in my case, it fits, much as I might not want to admit it.

  • nutmegan
    11 years ago

    Well, Janet I’m short and small boned but I have long arms, a big head and I’m overweight, so do I qualify as petite? I make long lists and I want to be orderly but truth be told I’m a slob. Any other sloppy, large, lack-a-daisical non-list making migraineurs want to weigh in?

    I always want to prove generalizations wrong. At first reading the article my blood was boiling with yours, then it was interesting to read Dr. Diamond’s defenders here. I don’t think he meant to typecast, but I think we have to be careful what we say in a public forum because things can be taken out of context.

  • MaxJerz
    11 years ago

    IMO, I’m more annoyed that those were the 3 “myths” they chose to debunk. What about, migraine as a psychological problem, not a neurological disease? (False.) What about, migraine is just a bad headache? (False.) Maybe the onus is on USA Today and not Dr Diamond, but that’s my real beef with the article.

    It sounds like he could have been trying to be complimentary, but I doubt that the vast majority of readers will take it that way.

    Be well,

  • rain gem
    11 years ago

    It almost sounds like the good doctor speaks of his ideal type of woman. It’s probably more of a compliment, be it somewhat misguided.

    Think about it this way – if “normals” think of us as all looking petite and being organized, they won’t be able to find out the rest of migraine people. When they decide to kill us with sticks or something.

    Spread the word to all our people – start wearing high heels and top hats. And hide all the notes and records.

  • Mary Kay
    11 years ago

    I read the comment and I believe Dr. Diamond is speaking from over 40 years of treating migrianeurs. He was the very first to speak out about migraine and how to treat it way back in the ’60’s. At that time migraineurs were deemed to have a Type A personality and many think the same exists today.

    What we do know is that migraine is usually genetic, but personality traits are common with migraineurs. They do tend to be overachievers, demand much of themselves which creates self imposed stress. 85% of them have some degree of anxiety. These are facts, not opinions on my part and the result of research.

    So let’s give Seymour a break..he is in his ’80’s at this point and gave his career to headache patients..

  • suzanne simons
    11 years ago

    Saying that there is a migraine personality is not a derogatory statement. It actually points out that many migrainuers may share common characteristics that can be helpful in life such as being orderly, organized people with great attention to detail. This is not to say that all migrainuers possess these characteristics or that they possess them to the same degree. In my many years (more than 45) of experience treating migraine sufferers, an overwhelming majority share these common traits.

    Suzanne Simons, Executive Director, National Headache Foundation on behalf of Seymour Diamond, MD, Executive Chairman

  • Lena
    11 years ago

    Did he really say “petite”? Does the adjective “petite” have something to do with personality?
    Second thing:
    Myth: Caffeine makes migraines worse.
    His reality: Some people find that caffeine inhibits migraines; for others, caffeine can be a migraine trigger.
    Reality: I read a good article about it, but it’s not in english. Caffeine makes people addicted to it, so, at first it release your migraine, but then you get more and more migraines and you need always more caffeine and so on… (that’s my own experience)

  • Eileen
    11 years ago

    It sounds like Dr.Diamond was joking to me….???? I mean to totally catagorize “migraine personality” as a “petite individual who keeps long lists” I think what he was trying to say was that “migraine personality” is becoming and “informed patient”

    That’s just my take, maybe I’m wrong…..????

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