Migraine and the bodymind
In the Historical Introduction to his book entitled “Migraine“, Oliver Sacks writes that migraine is a “daily fact of life to anonymous millions who suffer in secrecy and silence….it’s characters and circumstance, it’s physical and emotional symptoms – had all been clearly recognized by the second century of our era”.
“I was playing in the garden when a brilliant, shimmering light appeared to my left — dazzlingly bright, almost as bright as the sun. It expanded, becoming an enormous shimmering semicircle stretching from the ground to the sky, with sharp zigzagging borders and brilliant blue and orange colors. Then, behind the brightness, came a blindness, an emptiness in my field of vision, and soon I could see almost nothing on my left side. I was terrified — what was happening?”
His extensive research into migraine led him to the conclusion that migraine is the result of a dysfunction in the parasympathetic nervous system, the system that rebalances the body’s functioning after arousal.
He recognised two types of migraine, ‘red’ associated with anger, in which the patient is flushed and experiences heat along with other typical symptoms, and ‘white’ associated with fear, in which the patient is seen to be pale and experiences coldness.
It is understandable that when we are subjected to long term unhappiness, fear or anger in our early family environment we may experience a state of near constant arousal that never fully discharges and allows us to come back down into a state of equilibrium.