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Fromm-Reichmann, F. (2013). Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Migraine. Psychoanal. Rev., 100(1):95-102.

(2013). Psychoanalytic Review, 100(1):95-102

Contribution to the Psychogenesis of Migraine

Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, M.D.

Experience with eight cases of migraine (two men and six women) has given me the impression that they all were patients suffering from unresolved ambivalence; they could not stand to be aware of their hostility against beloved persons; therefore they unconsciously tried to keep this hostility repressed, and finally expressed it by the physical symptoms of migraine.

I had the good fortune to have this brought home to me by one of my patients who used to develop and to stop migraine attacks in the course of her analytical hour. She expressed her original ambivalence which she recognized later to be the reason for her migraine attacks most appropriately: “When I was a child,” she said, “I did not always totally agree with my beloved mother's ideas and resented the one or other decision she made. Each time I felt very badly and guilty of treason, and finally I got this bad headache.” During her analysis the patient went through a similar experience in the transference, feeling she betrayed the analyst whenever she felt any criticism about analysis or analyst. Consequently she repressed for a long time all antagonism toward the analyst. As a result she would often develop a migraine attack during her analytical hour. On becoming conscious of her hostility to the analyst her migraine symptoms would immediately, to quote her own words, “melt away.”


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