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Individual, Health and Society

Code: 42285 ECTS Credits: 15
Degree Type Year Semester
4313223 History of Science: Science, History and Society OT 0 2


Monica Balltondre Pla

Use of Languages

Principal working language:
spanish (spa)

Other comments on languages

Catalan and English are also used but to a lesser degree


Monica Alcala Lorente
Jon Arrizabalaga Valbuena
Isabel Jiménez Lucena
Andrea Graus Ferrer
Álvaro Girón
Silvia Cora Levy Lazcano
Monica Balltondre Pla
Elena Fernandez Garcia

External teachers

Andrea Graus Ferrer
Isabel Jiménez Lucena
Jon Arrizabalaga
Mònica Alcalá
Sara Serrano
Álvaro Girón


There are none.

Objectives and Contextualisation

The module consists in a critical historical study of the processes of medicalization and psychologization (both material and symbolic) in the Western world, with special attention to the contemporary period. Through the study of the categories of class, gender and race, the module analyzes the different agents, social processes and institutional arrangements involved in such processes at the core of modernity. The module also assesses the consequences of the process of medicalization and psychologization for the legitimacy of social control, the perception of health and illness, and the self-perception of the mind -body duality. Finally, through the analysis of relations of power/knowledge underlying these processes, the module studies the factors that allowed the biomedical sciences to become one of the most influential areass of knowledge in order to justify human hierarchy and inequality.


  • Develop an original, interdisciplinary historical narrative that integrates humanistic and scientific culture.
  • Display a sound knowledge of history so as to pinpoint the great events of the past with accuracy: authors, theories, experiments, practices, etc., and their stages of stability and transformation.
  • Display rigorous, advanced knowledge of the evolution of science throughout history.
  • Work in interdisciplinary teams, showing leadership and initiative.
  • Work independently: solving problems, taking decisions and making innovative proposals.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Analyse psychological practices at different moments in history.
  2. Analyse the consequences of the process of medicalisation and psychologisation regarding legitimisation of social control , perception of health and illness and self-perception.
  3. Analyse the role of public health in the policies of the European states in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  4. Assess the role of science and technology in the process of medicalisation.
  5. Compare cases in which gender has played a historically significant role in defining pathologies and the production and application of scientific-medical knowledge in different contexts.
  6. Compare favourable and critical viewpoints on psychology as a scientific undertaking.
  7. Critically analyse the tendency to codify social problems in terms of pathologies.
  8. Explain the change in views regarding subjectivity and the possibility of a science of the mind in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  9. Gauge the influence of psychological technology on social regulation.
  10. Identify and problematise the processes of medicalisation and psychologisation (material and symbolic) in their historical contexts as a key aspect of modernity.
  11. Identify the changes and continuances in the forms and content of the process of medicalisation and psychologisation and the role played in them by gender, class and race systems.
  12. Identify the different agents, social processes and institutional mechanisms that have intervened in the processes of medicalisation and psychologisation.
  13. Interpret the process of medicalisation and psychologisation as a fundamental part of the process of civilisation, rationalisation and social disciplining of the lower classes.
  14. Recognise the channels of demarcation and interaction between the science of psychology and society.
  15. Relate the political meaning of collective diseases among the working class to the interventionist health programmes of social medicine.
  16. Understand gender biases in western scientific medicine and understand the way in which medicine has contributed to the configuration (formulations and reformulations) of the systems of gender relationships.
  17. Understand the political, economic and social factors determining the development of public health in Europe.
  18. Work in interdisciplinary teams, showing leadership and initiative.
  19. Work independently: solving problems, taking decisions and making innovative proposals.


The module is structured in five blocks that will be held consecutively
Presentation of the module and historiographical introduction
Block 1. Science, gender and medicalization
I.1. Elements of gender systems: gender symbolism, gender structure and single gender
I.2. The gendering of science and medicine
I.3. Women as agents and objects of (de)medicalization
I.4. Analysis of the scientific and medical disclosure: media, gender and medicalization

I.5. Contemporary history of women I

I.6. Contemporary history of women II

Block 2. Public health and the process of medicalization (18th-19th centuries)
II.1. Introduction. Health, culture and medicalization
II.2. From individual disease to collective health
II.3. Public health, the Hippocratic environmentalism and the "sanitary idea"
II.4.Technology and science in medicine: the laboratory and the process of medicalization
Block 3. Mental health, gender and psi knowledge
III.1. From possessions to hysterics I
III.2. From possessions to hysterics II

III.3. Civilizing the unconscious: psychoanalysis and mental hygiene.

Workshop on "Gender, madness and social dangerousness"

III.4. Civilizing the unconscious: psychoanalysis and the Law

III.5. Masculinities and mental health

III.6. Neuroasthenia

Block 4. The process of medicalization in Western society (race and class)
IV.1. Evolutionary theories and the process of medicalization
IV.2. The medicalization of crime and their critics
IV.3. Coloniality of scientific power: medicine in the Spanish protectorate in Morocco
IV.4. Social medicine, working class revolution. Strategies medical intervention in the social question
IV.5. The construction of health culture: Homo hygienicus and civilizing processes.
IV.6. The collectivization of medical care
Block 5. Psi knowledge and the human being as object of research

V.1. Science and pseudoscience: psychical research

V.2. Genius and talent: genius kids

V.3. Humans as objects of medical research: STD inoculation experiments in vulnerable populations

V.4. The patient movement in historical perspective: the rebellion of women with breast cancer

V.5. Science and Penal Law: forensic experts on infanticide cases during Franco's Regime

V.6. Synthesis final session


The teaching methodology combines face-to-face sessions (seminars, master classes, text commentary, cineforum ...), student readings and the completion and presentation of a final written essay.

Annotation: Within the schedule set by the centre or degree programme, 15 minutes of one class will be reserved for students to evaluate their lecturers and their courses or modules through questionnaires.


Title Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Type: Directed      
Theoretical and practical sessions on the contents of the module 94 3.76 3, 2, 1, 9, 5, 6, 17, 16, 8, 7, 11, 12, 10, 13, 14, 15, 4
Type: Supervised      
Support tutorials for the understanding of the subject and development of the objectives 64 2.56 3, 2, 1, 9, 5, 6, 17, 16, 8, 7, 11, 12, 10, 13, 14, 15, 19, 4
Type: Autonomous      
Individual study, consultation of the bibliography, preparation of the topics, problem solving and preparation of written works 198 7.92 3, 2, 1, 9, 5, 6, 17, 16, 8, 7, 11, 12, 10, 13, 14, 15, 19, 18, 4


The final note of the module is constituted as follows: On the one hand the continuous attendance and participation of each student in the classroom in the debates on the readings is taken into account with 20%. 50% of the note is given by the performance of a written work. The remaining 30% will result from the oral defense of said work.


Assessment Activities

Title Weighting Hours ECTS Learning Outcomes
Attendance and active participation in class and seminars 20% 0 0 3, 2, 1, 9, 5, 6, 17, 16, 8, 7, 11, 12, 10, 13, 14, 15, 19, 18, 4
Delivery of reports / written works 50% 16 0.64 3, 2, 1, 9, 5, 6, 17, 16, 8, 7, 11, 12, 10, 13, 14, 15, 19, 18, 4
Exposition of written works 30% 3 0.12 3, 2, 1, 9, 5, 6, 17, 16, 8, 7, 11, 12, 10, 13, 14, 15, 19, 18, 4


ARESTI,  N. (2001) Médicos,  Donjuanes y  Mujeres  Modernas: los  ideales  de feminidad  y  masculinidad  en  el  primer tercio  del  siglo  XX. Bilbao, Universidad del País Vasco.

BARRAL, Mª José, et al. (1999) Interacciones ciencia y género. Discursos y prácticas científicas de mujeres, Barcelona, Icaria.

BARRÁN, J. P. et al. (1993) La medicalización de la sociedad. Montevideo, Ed. Nordan-Comunidad-Inst. Goethe de Montevideo.

BYNUM, C. W.  (1995). Why All the Fuss about the Body? A Medievalist’s Perspective, Critical Inquiry, 22, 1-33.

CAMPOS, R.; MARTÍNEZ PÉREZ, J. & HUERTAS, R. (2000).  Los ilegales de la naturaleza. Medicina y degeneracionismo en la España de la Restauración (1876-1923). Madrid: CSIC.

CARSON, J. (2007).  The measure of merit.  Princeton University Press.

CUNNINGHAM, A.; ANDREWS, B. (Eds.) (1997) Western Medicine as Contested Knowledge. Manchester, Manchester University Press.

DYCK, E. & STEWART, L. (eds.), (2016), The uses of humans in experiment: perspectives from the 17th to the 20th century. Leiden, Brill Rodopi.

ELIAS, N. (1987) El proceso de la civilización. Investigaciones sociogenéticas y psicogenéticas, México-Madrid-Buenos Aires, Fondo de Cultura Económica

FRIEDEN, T. & COLLINS, F. (2010). Intentional infection of vulnerable populations in 1946-1948, American Medical Association.

HARAWAY, D. J. (1995) Ciencia, ciborgs y mujeres: la reinvención de la naturaleza, Madrid, Cátedra.

HARDING, S. (1995) Ciencia y feminismo, Madrid, Ediciones Morata.

HATFIELD, G. (1995): Remaking the Science of the Mind. Inventing Human Science. Hg. von C. Fox, R. Porter & R. Wokler. Berkeley, 184-231.

HUERTAS, R.; CAMPOS, R. (1992) (eds.) Medicina social y clase obrera en España. 2 vols., Madrid, Fundación de Investigaciones Marxistas.

HUERTAS, R. (1998). Clasificar y educar. Historia natural y social de la deficiencia mental.Madrid: CSIC.

JACKSON, S. W. (1999). Care of the psyche: a history of psychological healing. London: Yale University Press.

JONES, J. (1993). The Tuskegee syphilis experiment. A Moral Astigmatism. En: S. Harding (Ed.) The "racial" economy of science: Toward a democratic future (pp. 276-286). Bloomington-Indianapolis: Indiana University Press.

KELLER, E. F. (1991) Reflexiones sobre género y ciencia, Valencia, Edicions Alfons el magnánim.

LABISCH, A. (1992) Homo Hygienicus. Gesundheit und Medizin in der Neuzeit. Frankfurt., Campus Verlag.

MIGNOLO, W. (2003) Historias locales, diseños globales: colonialidad, conocimientos subalternos y pensamiento fronterizo. Madrid, Akal.

MÜLBERGER, A. et al. (2016). La mente ‘anormal’ como amenaza social: La psicología del jurista E. Cuello Calón, Revista de Historia de la Psicología, 37 (2): 2-12.

PORTER, D. (1999) Health, Civilization, and the State. A History of Public Health from Ancient to Modern Times. London, Routledge.

RICHARDS, R. (1987). Darwin and the emergence of evolutionary theories of mind and behavior. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

RODRÍGUEZ OCAÑA, E. (1992) Por la Salud de las Naciones. Higiene, Microbiología y Medicina Social. Madrid, Editorial Akal.

RODRÍGUEZ OCAÑA, E. (2005) Salud pública en España. Ciencia, profesión y política, siglos XVIII-XX. Granada, Editorial Universidad de Granada.

SÁNCHEZ VILLA, M. C. (2017) Entre materia y espíritu. Modernidad y enfermedad social en la España Liberal (1833-1923). Madrid, CSIC.

SCHIEBINGER, L. (2004) ¿Tiene sexo la mente? Las mujeres en los orígenes de la ciencia moderna, Madrid, Cátedra. Smith, R. (1997). The Norton History of the Human Sciences. New York: Norton

SHOWALTER, E. (1987) The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830-1980. New York, Penguin.

STUCHTEY, B. (Ed.) (2005) Science across the European Empires, 1800-1950. Oxford, Oxford University Press.


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