Inventing the standard: psychology in the Brazilian Mental Hygiene League

Fernando A. Figueira do Nascimento Belinda Piltcher Haber Mandelbaum About the authors


The article analyzes psychology within the Brazilian Mental Hygiene League, an institution founded in 1923 for the adaptation of individuals and to shape the “universal morals of tomorrow.” Among other purposes, the league worked to adapt psychological tests and studies on child development in an attempt to assess mental function and establish standards. As an element that helped broaden the power of psychiatry, psychology was involved in two dimensions of disciplinary power: individual bodies and the social body. In this way, psychology also encountered the possibility that it could be vulgarized, as well as contradictions arising from the position of knowledge and techniques in this area.

history of science; history of psychology; hygienism; biopolitics; psychology

Casa de Oswaldo Cruz, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz Av. Brasil, 4365 - Prédio do Relógio, 21040-900 Rio de Janeiro RJ Brazil, Tel./Fax: (55 21) 3865-2208/2195/2196 - Rio de Janeiro - RJ - Brazil