Disability, as well as other concepts including: abnormal, non-normal, and normalcy came from this.With the rise of eugenics in the latter part of the nineteenth century, such deviations were viewed as dangerous to the health of entire populations.These worked in tandem with scientific discourses that sought to classify and categorize and, in so doing, became methods of normalization.The concept of the "norm" developed in this time period, and is signaled in the work of the Belgian statistician, sociologist, mathematician, and astronomer Adolphe Quetelet, who wrote in the 1830s of l'homme moyen – the average man.During the Middle Ages, madness and other conditions were thought to be caused by demons.They were also thought to be part of the natural order, especially during and in the fallout of the Plague, which wrought impairments throughout the general population.Quetelet postulated that one could take the sum of all people's attributes in a given population (such as their height or weight) and find their average, and that this figure should serve as a norm toward which all should aspire.This idea of a statistical norm threads through the rapid take up of statistics gathering by Britain, United States, and the Western European states during this time period, and it is tied to the rise of eugenics.
Various metrics for assessing a person's genetic fitness, which were then used to deport, sterilize, or institutionalize those deemed unfit.
These conditions functionally disabled them, and what is now known as the social model of disability emerged.
Coined by Mike Oliver in 1983, this phrase distinguishes between the medical model of disability – under which an impairment needs to be fixed – and the social model of disability – under which the society that limits a person needs to be fixed.
Contemporary concepts of disability are rooted in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century developments.
Foremost among these was the development of clinical medical discourse, which made the human body visible as a thing to be manipulated, studied, and transformed.