10 Pages

Introduction to the Transaction Edition

WithGeorge Windholz

Ivan Petrovich Pavlov’s theory of higher nervous activity is concerned with organisms high on the phylogenetic scale, such as dogs, apes, and humans, and their adaptation to changing external environments. The theory encompasses normal as well as abnormal activities. In the 1920s, Pavlov and his disciples—Pavlovians—used laboratory experimentation to study the etiology and therapy of neuroses. In addition to laboratory experiments, Pavlov devoted much time and effort in the 1930s to the systematic study of psychopathology in the clinical setting. Pavlov was mainly interested in the function of the cortex in the organisms’ adaptation to the external environment. The conditioned reflex findings were explained in terms of hypothetical physiological process. Pavlov’s explanation of abnormal disorders in humans took into consideration the interaction between the organism’s innate aspects and environmental conditions. Three related processes were considered to be responsible for abnormal human behavior: the temperaments, the second signal system, and the impact of the environment.