Types, norms and normalization: Hormone research and treatments in Italy, Argentina and Brazil, c. 1900-1950

Beccalossi, Chiara (2020) Types, norms and normalization: Hormone research and treatments in Italy, Argentina and Brazil, c. 1900-1950. History of Human Sciences . ISSN 1461-720X

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Types, norms and normalization: Hormone research and treatments in Italy, Argentina and Brazil, c. 1900-1950
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Abstract

Displacing the physiological model that had held sway in 19th-century medical thinking, early 20th-century hormone research promoted an understanding of the body and sexual desires in which variations in sex characteristics and non-reproductive sexual behaviours such as homosexuality were attributed to anomalies in the internal secretions produced by the testes or the ovaries. Biotypology, a new brand of medical science conceived and led by the Italian endocrinologist, Nicola Pende, employed hormone research to study human types and hormone treatments to normalise individuals who did not conform to accepted medical norms. Latin American medical doctors, eugenicists and sexologists took up biotypology with enthusiasm. This article considers the case studies of Italy, Argentina and Brazil, and analyses the work of medical doctors who adopted a biotypological mode of reasoning and employed to various extents hormone therapies in their practice. By focusing on hormone therapies that aimed to normalise secondary sexual characteristics and the sexual instinct, this articles suggests that while the existence of normality was contested to the point that a number of medical scientists argued that no such thing existed, the pursuit of normality was carried out in very practical terms through the new medical technologies hormone research had introduced.

Keywords:Argentina, Brazil, Italy, hormones, biotypology
Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V270 World History
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V380 History of Science
V Historical and Philosophical studies > V146 Modern History 1920-1949
Divisions:College of Arts > School of History & Heritage > School of History & Heritage (History)
ID Code:42323
Deposited On:10 Sep 2020 14:10

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