History’s most famous migraineurs

Posted by on Oct. 24, 2012

History's most famous migraineurs


Migraine is a debilitating condition that costs the American healthcare industry billions of dollars annually in consultation fees, medication, and other treatment methods, among many others. It can also cause billions of dollars in the professional sphere as people with the condition would sometimes call in sick rather than brave their daily routines with a severe migraine attack. Given how migraines can affect a person’s work performance, it leaves the question how people with migraine can still excel in the workplace.

The answer to this might be the “migraine personality,” a personality derived from some of the most famous migraineurs of all-time. People with migraine are labeled to be “intensely driven, creative, and willing to get things done no matter what.” Does this sound like you? Below are some of the most famous migraineurs in history:

  • Vincent Van Gogh – Some say his visual auras inspired his work, as is evident by the vibrant colors and strong strokes of his paintings.
  • Claude Monet – Monet’s migraine with aura often manifests in seeing bright lights. His work is said to be inspired with the aura as his paintings are full of light.
  • Virginia Woolfe – A famous author, she was often dubbed as erratic and eccentric. Unfortunately, her depression and nervous breakdowns were symptoms of migraine.
  • Lewis Carroll – Another renowned author, Carroll’s masterpiece ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ was said to be inspired by the symptoms of his migraine with aura.
  • Elvis Presley – The King of Rock and Roll is another famous migraineur. His attacks would leave him bedridden for days and was often hospitalized because of the pain.
  • Serena Williams – This athlete’s migraine attacks affected her so much that she became the spokesperson for “RALLY for Menstrual Migraine” campaign.
  • Dwyane Wade– The Miami Heat’s all-star guard planned to wear tinted goggles on the court to help him recover from migraine, but the NBA recently announced that they will not allow it. (According to league officials, the tinted glasses gave an unfair advantage because his opponents couldn’t see his eyes.)
  • Janet Jackson– Diagnosed with vestibular migraine, this artist has cancelled over 8 tour shows because of her attacks.

Other famous people who are known to have suffered from the condition include Napoleon Bonaparte, Thomas Jefferson, Julius Caesar, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, and Princess Margaret. Soccer player Freddie Ljungberg was even carried off the field while he was having a migraine attack.

If you’re feeling helpless because of your migraine, remember that there are people who have the same condition still managed to make a difference. Take it as a challenge to conquer it and to motivate yourself to do better things than before.


By Keith Allison (Flickr: Dwyane Wade) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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