Migraine auras and hypergraphia and their connection to Hildegard Von Bingen


Hildegard von Bingen was a nun in the twelfth century who, despite extraordinarily severe circumstances, grew to be one of the most influential and respected people that we still know today. At the age of eight, she was dedicated, by her parents, to a monastery where she became an 'anchoress,' or person consigned to one of the harshest forms of religious purification. She lived in a small, isolated cell, void of human interaction, save for another anchoress who was her tutor. Hildegard remained imprisoned in this state until she was about fifteen or sixteen years of age. Hildegard wrote in her autobiography that she was extremely frail in health and that she experienced spiritual visions from about the age of three. Today these visions are medically recognized to have been migraine headaches. I agree with this, but I also think that Hildegard, in addition to the migraines, had a compulsive condition known as Hypergraphia, which fiercely influenced her character and motivation. Although the migraines may have been pre-existent at the time of her dedication into the monastery, I believe that the Hypergraphia stemmed from her experiences there. This study will examine Hildegard' s life during and after her confinement and the repercussions, such as the evolving migraine auras and Hypergraphia. The migraine auras are found symbolically within the imagery of her illuminated manuscripts. I have compared the characteristics of migraine auras with the imagery found in Hildegard' s illuminations. I have also examined the similarities between Hildegard's philosophy and her high amount of productivity with characteristics of Hypergraphia.


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Thesis Completion





Congdon, Kristin G.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program

Art History


Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic;Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences;Hildegard -- Saint -- 1098-1179;Migraine







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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