Biography of Gregorio Marañón Posadillo (1887-1960)

Physician and Spanish writer, born in Madrid in 1887, and died in his hometown in 1960.

He studied at the Faculty of Medicine of Madrid, and obtained the degree of Licentiate in 1909 and the doctor in 1910. Of the teachers who had, which, according to him, most influenced him were Federico Olóriz Anatomy, Santiago Ramón y Cajal in histology, Alejandro San Martín in surgical pathology, and Juan Madinaveitia and Manuel Alonso Sañudo in internal medicine. Cajal became, in addition, a constant reference to intellectual and moral, particularly since reading your rules and tips. The culmination of this process was the speech in honor of Cajal pronounced in 1947 at the time of his admission to the Academy of Sciences, and two years later expanded book title Cajal, your time and ours.

Marañón was initiated in the study of Endocrinology, discipline that was then in its infancy, in Spain by Madinaveitia and Sanudo, studying with the first thyroid syndromes and the pluriglandulares with the latter. As he/she recalled later, "attenuated syndromes and pluriglandulares syndromes were, precisely, the pillars of the future science which was then born and today reaches majestic foliage." In 1910 he/she did research chemotherapy in the laboratory of Paul Ehrlich in Frankfurt. Returned to Spain, he/she began working at the General Hospital of Madrid in 1911. He/She thought of that Endocrinology was born as autonomous discipline, and considered the work of Artur Biedl, Innere Sekretion, published in 1910, as the paradigmatic exposition of the role of internal secretions in Physiology.

This set of knowledge, accumulated during what he/she called a period of explosive growth of Endocrinology, he/she presented it to the Spanish public in the doctrine of internal secretions, which was, in principle, a course given at the Ateneo de Madrid in 1915. Marañón developed his version of the endocrinological theory over the next decade, mainly in his book on the climacteric age entitled, published in 1919, and in his speech of welcome at the Academy of medicine in 1922 and critical current issues of the doctrine of internal secretions. In this last work, Marañón perceived the crisis that had discipline, caused by the hypercritical attacks on the theory of internal secretions by researchers such as E. Gley French and English Swale Vincent, who attempted to a stricter definition of hormones, to exclude general metabolic stimulants.

In Spain, as elsewhere, the adrenaline became the first field of battle, with cashew and his disciples from the Institute of medical pathology, advocating a broader approach of hormone action, and physiologists as Juan Negrín and Augusto Pi Suñer, who were in favour of a more restricted concept. Typical of the Marañón approach to Endocrinology, was his enthusiastic defence of the blend in the 1920s and their participation in a good number of aerated transplants of adrenal and gonads, in collaboration with Leon Cardinal. As cardinal, he/she became interested in methods of rejuvenation of Eugen Steinach and Serge Voronoff. In the critical age and other later writings, he/she said that aging and the decline of the sexual functions were very linked, and that the first could be described perfectly with the latest terminology. He/She retained his interest in aging and can be considered as one of the founders of Gerontology in Spain.

Cashews to the glands of internal secretion considered supervisory bodies of human physiology, as you can see in this summary of 1934: "today we know well that, to a large extent, the intimate of identification, strictly personal tab, each being live is an endocrine formula that determines its hereditary possibilities, the determination of sex and of his successors;" the rise and the accidents of his sexual life; its morphological structure; their vegetative reactions; index of emotion; the type of psychological features and the calculation of probabilities of their possible future diseases." He/She also said that "the hormones are not mischievous goblins or miraculous fairy, but strict workers with limited function and its activity not transferable and fixed". Marañón was an important Spanish commentator of psychoanalysis and Freud'spsychosexual theories. It was the only major Spanish physician who personally knew Freud and one of the few biologists who was taken seriously by the first psychoanalysts. Therefore, Marie Bonaparte (in whose house cashew had met Freud) wrote of the sexuality of the femme Marañón was "an author not aligned in rows of psychoanalysts, but his work caught the attention of them". Bonaparte cited his work from 1930, the evolution of sexuality and intersex States, where the Marañón argued that every human being was endowed with characteristics of both sexes, and that they are most distinct as it progresses on the phylogenetic scale.

For cashew, and Freud, libido (the Marañón called "sexual hunger") was a primary impetus. But for the endocrinologist this specific energy was originally produced by a chemical phenomenon: the emergence in the blood of the internal secretions of the gonads. (Freud admitted it, but pointed out that the chemical origins of libido were irrelevant to his psychology). Due to the biological support which had offered to Freud's theories, Marañón works on sexuality were very popular in Italy, where the Catholic movement of opposition to the Freudian psychology was very large. He/She accepted the Freudian concept of infantile sexuality, and believed that both sexes as they passed through stages of intersex, adolescent men and women in the menopause. At the philosophical level, he/she thought that psychoanalysis and endocrinology were complementary tasks, since the two were pursuing to establish the idiosyncrasies of the individual, and that Freud's greatest contribution to medicine was to restore a humanistic perspective.

The clinical interest of Marañón was not limited to the field of sexuality. He/She carried out research on the pituitary, adrenal (Addison's disease), parathyroid and, fundamentally, upon the thyroid gland to which he/she devoted more than forty works. He/She was the first to demonstrate the frequent appearance of muscle hypertrophy in children with myxedema legs and, experimentally, injected with adrenaline to get an in cases of thyroid dysfunction hypermetabolic state.

In 1931, Marañón founded the Institute of medical pathology and was elected Deputy for the Constituent Cortes Republican. A year later he/she was appointed Professor of Endocrinology unopposed. In the last days of 1936, because of the civil war, had to leave Spain, settling in Paris until 1943, date in which he/she returned to Madrid. Upon his return, his public reappearance took place in the Auditorium of the University, where he/she delivered a lecture. In 1945 the reinstatement issue was resolved for teaching of Endocrinology. In 1946 he/she was appointed member of the plenary of the Superior Council of scientific investigations, agency created by the authorities of the new regime established after the end of the war, on behalf of the Board of Trustees "Santiago Ramón y Cajal". In 1948 the Council established, on request, the Institute of Endocrinology pilot who, later, joined the Center for biological research.

She was interested throughout his career in the history and the structure of science. In his 1922 academic speech, said that all scientific disciplines through a series of forced stages: precientifica, latency, explosive growth, hyperbolic acceptance and movement of reaction and "classical" period of maturity. In the same work, said another important factor affecting the Spanish Science: the lack of scientific tradition and the sufficient number of researchers to supply a minimum of criticism, rigorous and personal, to the development of scientific theory. As a historian, his study was devoted to the biological ideas of Benito Feijóo (1933), in which, while sobrevaloro the role of Feijóo and his contemporaries as scientific innovators, got, on the other hand, draw attention to the undeniable vitality of Spanish science of the enlightenment.

As a writer, he/she emphasized in the field of essay, biography and historiography. Laín Entralgo, most designated biographer, has emphasized his figure three facets: physician, historian and moralist. The sum of several of them are works such as biological ideas of father Feijoo (1934), vocation and ethics (1935) or the doctor and his practice in our time (1952), although the main thing of his literary works are biographies in which characterizes various historical characters, turning them into emblems of an age and in prototypes of a characterIt does not mean, as unfortunately has been understood at times, that these characters "were" as well, but Marañón deduced from his performance certain characteristics which, as already noted, in the prototype of the character or of the time. They are works such as Enrique IV of Castile and his time (1930, reissued in 1941 as biological study on Enrique IV of Castile); Amiel. A study on the shyness (1932); The count-Duke of Olivares (passion send) (1936); Tiberius. History of resentment (1939); Luis Vives (a Spanish outside Spain) (1942); Antonio Pérez (man, the drama, the time) (1947); Cajal: your time and ours (1950) and El Greco and Toledo (1956), to which was added posthumously Juan Maragall and his time (1963). These trials are often together, despite not being a mythical, but historical character Don Juan. Essays on the origin of his legend (1940), of great interest for converge in their assessment of the myth with visions of Pérez de Ayala and Unamuno.

Moralist of the Marañón trial appearance have been highlighted titles as three essays on sexual life (1926); Love, convenience and eugenics (1929); Root and decorum of Spain (1933) and liberal trials (1946).

In 2004, more than forty years after the death of the writer, published Expulsion and diaspora of the Moors, a study on the political and social factors which led to the expulsion of the Muslim converts in the early 17TH century.

His style, no doubt based on its success, is due to its exhibition capacity, which is situated halfway between scientific prose and literary expression. For this reason he/she is considered, not only as one of the major Essayists of our time, but also as the link between the literary essay and the specifically scientific.



Complete works, ed. dir. by Alfredo Juderias, 9 vols., up to date, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1966-1977, 10 volumes.You can see his bibliography in the commemorative volume published by his disciples, twenty-five years of work, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1935, pp. 53-173 and in Gomez-santos (see below), pages 417-496.


LAÍN ENTRALGO, Pedro. Gregorio Marañón: life, work and person (Madrid: 1969).GRANJEL, Luis S.: Gregorio Marañón, his life and his work, Madrid, Guadarrama, 1960.POZUELO ESCUDERO, Vicente: Marañón and his work in medicine. Madrid, classical culture and modern, 1965.gomez-SANTOS, Marino: life of Gregorio Marañón, Madrid, Taurus, 1971.F. GLICK, Thomas: "On the Diffusion of a New Specialty: Marañón and the Crisis of Endocrinology in Spain" in Journal of the History of Biology, 9 (1976), 287-300. (On the Foundation of Endocrinology as a discipline in Spain).FERRÁNDIZ LLORET, a.: The psychology of Marañon, Madrid, Universidad Complutense, 1984, 2 vols.ROMERO TABOADA, M.: The anthropology of Gregorio Marañón, Rome, City University Santo Tomas, 1986.BATLLORI, M.: "Gregorio Marañón before history and in the history", Bulletin of the Royal Academy of history, CLXXXV/1, 155-169 (1988).CEREZO GALÁN, p.: Humanism and liberalism in Gregorio Marañón. In: History of Spain Ramón Menéndez Pidal, vol. XXXIX, 1, Madrid, Espasa-Calpe, 1993, p. 277-282.perez GUTIERREZ, f.: the youth prologue of P. Laín Entralgo, Marañón, Editorial Trotta, Madrid, 1997.

Thomas F. Glick