Who are we, anyway?

Many people in the headache community refer to a person who gets migraines as a ‘migraineur.’ I disagree. I strongly prefer the term ‘person with migraine.’ Which is a better term?

Dr. William Young at the Jefferson Headache Clinic posed this question to a panel of 15 experts, academics, advocates, and patients. (I was a member of this panel.) I’ve written about this panel before. In this post, I want to focus on the question about what we should call ourselves. Are we migraineurs? Or are we people with migraine? In the end, our group was equally and passionately divided between the two terms.

Here’s a summary of what the two camps argued:

Migraineur advocates: People who liked ‘migraineur’ tended to argue that it was concise and sounded nicer than the awkward ‘person with migraine.’ They thought that ‘migraineur’ would always be acceptable in a medical context, although agreed that it might not be appropriate for use in broader audiences.

Person with migraine advocates: People who preferred ‘person with migraine’ argued that it was easier to understand than ‘migraineur.’ But, for me (as well as for about half the panel), the most compelling reason to use ‘person with migraine’ is because the term ‘migraineur’ problematically confuses the individual with the disease. ‘Migraineur’ suggests that migraine is an integral part of one’s identity. Of course, this feature of ‘migraineur’ might be a selling point for some people. It just isn’t for me.

So what do you think? Do you prefer to use ‘migraineur?’ Or will you adopt ‘person with migraine’? Why or why not?

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