SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




CONDITIONAL REACTIONS AND PSYCHIATRY 361
It does not take much explanation to see that the nervous mechanism revealed in the experiments of Doctor Zavadzki accounts on human levels for a great many 'mental' manifestations, including 'recall', 'unconscious', 'repression', 'complexes'., and allowing a further generalization, that a slight nervous disturbance of 'recall', in the sense of negative unconditionality, may be closely connected with a pathological semantic 'complex'.
Another experiment has close connection with the problems of the human 'unconscious', 'repressions', and 'complexes'. The positive conditional reactions were usually obtained by combining under certain conditions a formerly neutral stimulus with food or with a mild defense reaction to acid. If the neutral stimulus is not reinforced, it loses its significance for the organism, no secretion is obtained, and it becomes from this point of view a negative stimulus. If, with a given animal, a negative reaction is established, it can, under certain conditions, be transformed into a positive one by reinforcement. In the experiment we are describing, a dog was used, with a well-established negative alimentary reaction to the beats of the metronome at the rate of sixty beats per minute, while the rate of one hundred and twenty beats per minute was used as a positive stimulus. Both reactions were constant and precise. The process of transformation from negative to positive went slowly; after the seventeenth application with reinforcement, a small secretion of saliva was obtained; after the twenty-seventh reinforcement, the secretions of saliva were already considerable. No definite disturbances in other positive reactions were observed except for a tendency to the equalization of strong and weak conditional stimuli.
But the secretory reaction to the transformed stimulus of sixty beats did not remain constant, in spite of reinforcement; it diminished, and after the thirtieth application fell to zero. It was noticed, further, that immediately after the application of the metronome at the rate of sixty beats per minute, practically all the older positive reactions disappeared. After further experimenting, some of the positive effects of the metronome at sixty returned, but its negative or depressing effect on the positive reactions persisted. In all cases where the metronome at sixty was not used, all the positive conditional reactions maintained their strength, except that the weaker stimuli had an inclination to produce lesser effects toward the end of the experiment. Although the metronome at sixty or one hundred and twenty produced salivary secretions in varying quantities when used alone, whenever the metronome was used there followed a disturbance of all conditional reactions, varying from complete extinction to a diminution of secretions. The formerly positive stimulus