Changing Understandings among Physicians of Developmental Disabilities, 1950-1980

Project: Research project

Project Details


Research and writing of a book on medical understandings of developmental disabilities in the second half of the 20th century. After 1950, the understanding and management of developmental disabilities were impacted by two countervailing trends. As public support for the unique needs and experiences of affected individuals increased, physicians began to link developmental disabilities to genetic causes. Genetic associations led to new identities and resources, but also reified disability as a pathological target for medical intervention. Scholars have extensively explored increasing postwar social support for disability. Less has been done to examine how evolving societal views of disability influenced the medical community. This project draws on archives, published literature, and interviews to examine evolving clinical narratives of developmental disabilities. The PI examines how and why new narratives of developmental disabilities entered the medical community, how clinicians responded to alternative viewpoints, positively and negatively, and the role of some professionals in promoting broader adoption.
Effective start/end date5/1/176/30/17


  • National Endowment for the Humanities: $6,000.00


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