SCIENCE AND SANITY - online book

An Introduction To Non-aristotelian Systems And General Semantics.

Home | About | Philosphy | Contact | Search




362
VI. ON PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGY
of one hundred and twenty beats of the metronome produced greater disturbances than the formerly negative of sixty. Further experimentation disclosed that the disturbance of the cortex was profound, and that it could not withstand any kind of stronger stimuli without producing completely negative results. It became, also, obvious that the maximum disturbance in the central nervous activity in animals (and in man) does not appear immediately after the application of the injurious factor but after a delay.
Since other auditory stimuli acted during these experiments, Pavlov concludes that 'the disturbance must be regarded as a result of a strictly localized functional interference in the acoustic analyser, a chronic functional lesion of some circumscribed part, the stimulation of which produces an immediate effect upon the function of the whole cortex, and finally leads to a protracted pathological state', and, that 'it is obvious that the localized disturbance of the acoustic analyser is again the result of a clash between excitation and inhibition', which this particular nervous system finds difficult to adjust.2
These experiments were conducted upon a dog which had served in the laboratory for a long time and belonged to the type which has a very negatively excitable nervous system. Experiments on dogs with very positively excitable nervous systems, although different in details, led to similar general results; namely, that a clashing of the two antagonistic nervous processes led, usually, to a more or less protracted disturbance of the function of the cortex, in the form of a lasting predominance of one of the processes.3
Experimenting on the conditional reactions in animals, such as a dog, by inducing pathological states of the nervous system, gives us, in a simplified form, a means to understand the mechanism which underlies some of the human 'mental' illnesses, provided we realize the fundamental fact that these experiments on dogs correspond, in their simpler form, to 'mental' ills, and not to 'mental' health, in man. The above experiments would be impossible with a healthy person; yet they depict exactly what happens in the case of 'mentally' ill. The experiments started with a healthy animal, and they ended with a pathological case. If similar experiments were undertaken with a healthy person, no pathological results would follow, owing to the larger conditionality of reactions.; but similar pathological results are produced in humans by different means, the confusion of orders of abstractions being a standard semantic mechanism to bring about the 'clash' between the positive and negative excitations which the nervous system of man cannot resolve so easily.