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"Det är honom kvinnorna ber om barn": Carl Gemzells hormonbehandling och förväntningar på svensk fertilitetsforskning 1958–1974
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History of Science and Ideas.
2017 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 30 credits / 45 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This study examines the production and the introduction of a fertility treatment which gained great attention both in Sweden and internationally during the 1960s. In the procedure, hormones were extracted from human pituitary glands which had been collected from autopsies. After this, the hormones were purified and injected into the female patients as a treatment for certain kinds of sterility. Carl Gemzell, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Uppsala University, was a key figure in the development of the treatment. He was described by the media as a medical pioneer and later became one of Sweden’s most famous doctors and scientists. The fertility treatment also gained a lot of attention in the media as ”the miracle drug that made barren women pregnant”, especially since it often resulted in multiple pregnancies. In the 1960s, pregnancies with quadruplets, quintuplets, sextuplets and even septuplets became world sensations.

By using the sociology of expectations as theoretical approach, which focuses on the performativity of expectations and visions in science production, this study aims to investigate how expectations of an effective fertility method were articulated in both the scientific sphere and in the media. This of course also relates to how the risks of the multiple pregnancies were dealt with. The analysis is divided into three chapters, where the first chapter examines the politics of science in Sweden during the post-war period and how Gemzell’s work in Uppsala generated expectations of a scientific milieu on the front line of fertility research. The next chapter is focused on the media’s interest in Gemzell and how he became a celebrity. A central argument for the study is that his public status helped to create scientific credibility for the treatment, especially among the public. The final chapter focuses on the media reporting about the multiple pregnancies. They were often treated as sensations, which was somewhat paradoxical as they were hazardous and frequently resulted in the death of the premature children.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. , p. 63
Keywords [en]
fertility research, multiple births, obstetrics and gynecology, Sweden, Carl Gemzell, hormonal treatment, endocrinology, sociology of expectations, 1960s
Keywords [sv]
fertilitetsforskning, flerbördsgraviditeter, obstetrik och gynekologi, Carl Gemzell, hormonbehandling, endokrinologi, förväntanssociologi, 1960-talet
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-323329OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-323329DiVA, id: diva2:1105795
Subject / course
History of Science and Ideas
Educational program
Master Programme in the Humanities – History of Science and Ideas
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2017-06-16 Created: 2017-06-05 Last updated: 2017-06-16Bibliographically approved

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Citation style
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