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Hormoner och visioner i mellankrigstid: Louis Bermans idéer om möjligheten att förädla mänskligheten
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Historical Studies.
2004 (Swedish)In: Lychnos, ISSN 0076-1648, 165-206 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In the first half of the twentieth century, hormones took pride of place as life’s master molecules, and the endocrinologist took precedence over the geneticist as the scientist offering the means to control life. But, as with genetics and biotechnology today, the status of endocrinology was not only based on contemporary scientific and medical practices but also, to a high degree, on expectations, or visions, about what endocrinologists would be able to do ”in the future”. Inspired by the research field social studies of techno-scientific expectations, the aim of this article is to explore some of the great expectations that were connected to the development of endocrinology in the 1930s. The analysis is based on popular books written by the American endocrinologist Louis Berman, who worked in New York City most of his life, part time at Columbia University. In 1921, Berman reached fame for his book The glands regulating personality, which was a study of the glands of internal secretion in relation to what Berman called the ”types of human nature”. In the journal Science, Berman later named his approach ”psycho-endocrinology”. In the 1930s, Berman not only argued that it was possible to understand human nature through hormone analysis, but that endocrinologists would also be able to control and ”improve” human nature by using hormone therapy. Furthermore, in contrast to most of the eugenics of his time, Berman suggested that the whole population of the world should be improved, not only humans within a specific race or in specific nations. As a political activist of the 1930s, Berman wanted to contribute to the development of new creations in human beings, ”ideal normal persons”, and thereby to reach an ”ideal society”. That such large-scale hormone replacement therapy could involve risks, such as side effects, was something that Berman seems not to have taken into account.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Lärdomshistoriska samfundet , 2004. 165-206 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-11649OAI: diva2:151320

Titel på engelska: Hormones and visions in 1930s America: Louis Berman’s ideas on new creations in human beings.

Available from: 2009-01-28 Created: 2009-01-28 Last updated: 2013-09-09Bibliographically approved

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