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September 2014

wikiHow Article on How to Fake A Migraine Insulting and Disgusting

StigmaPuzzleThose of us who live with Migraine and other headache disorders do our best to live in our society, something that's often beyond difficult. We live in a society where these disorders are pathetically misunderstood and we face social stigma that leaves some of us often distraught, angry, and hurt.

People tend to fear what they don't understand, and that fear manifests in ridicule, discrimination, ostracism, and other hurtful and harmful attitudes and behaviors.

Friday (August 15, 2014), a friend posted a link on my Facebook page. Maybe you can imagine my horror at the title: "How to Fake a Migraine Successfully." The article was published on, and it was spelled out in "8 easy steps," complete with photos.

I went to the site and read both the article and their terms of use document. The article was clearly in violation of their terms of use and met their criteria to be "nominated for deletion" under three categories:

  1. It failed to meet the wikiHow character article standards
  2. The topic was a joke. Their document says, "Don't use on achievable topics that happen to be funny."
  3. It was also mean-spirited.

I followed their procedures for attempting to handle it. In fact, I tried over and over and over again. Every time I'd put in the codes for nomination for deletion and add comments about it being a bad idea, someone (I'd assumer one of the original so-called authors) came back and put the same insulting tripe back.

One wikiHow staff member did email me about my "concerns" and tried to be helpful. Unfortunately, his ability to be helpful is limited by the site's asinine rules and processes. Evidently, they have no guidelines or policies that let staff simply delete potentially harmful content. There's a long process that culminates in the "community" VOTING on whether to delete it or not. WHAT?! That's ridiculous beyond any rationality.

Has the moral and ethical fabric of our society gone totally to hell? If this article and wikiHow's anemic response to the complaints about it are any indication, the answer to that is a resounding and horrifying, "Yes."

I must give credit to some of the administrators on wikiHow today though. On the article page today, the original content does not show. The page contains a note that the page has been nominated for deletion along with a couple of paragraphs about faking being ill and that it's not a good thing to do. Hopefully, this whole episode will end with the article being deleted and wikiHow rethinking all of the similar articles on their site.

It's perhaps understandable that some people wonder, "What's the big deal?" Here are some points that I and other members of the online Migraine community offer:

  • Migraine is a potentially debilitating and disabling neurological disease. Diseases are not amusing. How would people have reacted if the article had been about faking a heart attack, cancer, multiple sclerosis, leukemia, Parkinson's, or other diseases?
  • Too many Migraineurs are already being accused of faking Migraines to miss work, school, and other activities. An article on how to do it would only serve to make people think we really do this. Such an article would have no value. It would only serve to perpetuate the stereotype and increase the stigma associated with Migraine.
  • Research has shown that the stigma associated with Migraine increases the burden of the disease. It make it even more difficult for us to live with it.
  • The old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," is a bunch of nonsense. Words can indeed hurt, terribly. They can indeed cause harm. Words can stigmatize.
  • Migraineurs need help, support, and understanding. There have been several suicides in the online Migraine community over the last year, including a 14-year-old boy. Feeling hopeless and stigmatized helped lead to those losses. We must find a way to turn this around.

There is so much more I could say here, but I've made my point. If you want to see the text from the wikiHow article as it was before the editing wars started, you can download this PDF file. The wikiHow admins have changed the title, but if you want to see how the article appears now, you can follow this link. If you wish to comment on the article, follow the discussion link that appears above the article. Calm, rational comments may help as wikiHow decides whether to permanently delete the article and other similar articles.

In closing, I wish all of you well and would like to share something positive with you...

Change the world

Live well,

PurpleRibbonTiny Teri1

Make a difference... Donate to the 36 Million Migraine Campaign!


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© Teri Robert, 2014
Last updated August 17, 2014.