Abstract Title:

[Men in a critical age : Kurt Mendel and the controversy over the male climacterium.]

Abstract Source:

Urologe A. 2011 Apr 29. Epub 2011 Apr 29. PMID: 21528364

Abstract Author(s):

H-G Hofer

Article Affiliation:

Medizinhistorisches Institut, Universität Bonn, Sigmund-Freud-Straße 25, 53105, Bonn, Deutschland, [email protected]


Since the 1990s, with concepts like the male climacterium, andropause or PADAM, the idea of a"change of life" in men has gone through a spectacular reinvention. Recent research has focused upon the ways when, how and why these concepts emerged, thus taking cultural and historical approaches into account. This paper contributes to the growing corpus of such works. It sheds new light on the early decades of the twentieth century - a period that was decisive in establishing the modern, endocrinological understanding of the climacteric period as a result of hormonal deficiencies. Concurrently, this period saw several initiatives to conceptualize the male climacterium as a new and important diagnostic entity for health problems of men in their middle and later life. In Germany, the most important advocate was the Berlin neurologist Kurt Mendel, who published an influential article in 1910 entitled "The Change of Life in Men (Climacterium virile)". Mendel's concept evoked considerable interest and was much debated across medical disciplines, including neurology, psychiatry, sexology, endocrinology and urology. This article revisits and reassesses Mendel's concept of the male climacterium, discusses its specific status and significance, and places it within the historical context. Furthermore this, the paper argues that a historical approach is indispensable for a more nuanced understanding of the current arguments given to legitimize (or delegitimize) the status of a climacteric period in men.

Study Type : Review
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