Ivan Pavlov

Ivan Pavlov
Born Sep. 26, 1849
Ryazan, Russian Empire
Died Feb. 27, 1936 (at age 86)
Leningrad, Soviet Union
Nationality Russian

Ivan Pavlov was born in Ryazan on September 14, 1849. He was a famous physician and physiologist. His father was known as Peter Dmitrievich Pavlov, and he was a priest in Ryazan. Ivan Pavlov first went to school at a local church school in Ryazan. He furthered his studies in the same school at the theological seminary.

Early Life and Education

Pavlov was initially unaware of science, but in 1860, he was inspired by the liberal ideas of one of the most eminent Russian literary critics known as D.I. Pisarev. He was also inspired by other progressive ideas that were being spread by the father of Russian physiology – Sir I.M. Sechenov. These ideas inspired him to abandon a religious career and dedicate his entire life to studying science.

As a result, he enrolled in the faculty of mathematics and physics at the University of Saint Petersburg in 1870 where he pursued a course in natural science. Pavlov started developing a keen interest in the field of Psychology which remained of great importance to him throughout his life.

During his first course, he collaborated with another student to produce his first learned treatise which mainly focused on physiology related to pancreatic nerves. This academic thesis gained wide acclamation and he won a prestigious award for it. Pavlov completed his third course in 1879 and was honored with another award once again.

Pavlov’s Professional Years

While at the academy, Pavlov took a competitive exam and won a fellowship. He acquired the position of the Director of the Physiological Laboratory at the clinic of S.P. Botkin, a famous Russian clinician. This allowed him to continue with his dedicated research work.

In 1883, Pavlov presented his doctors thesis entitled The centrifugal nerves of the heart in which he developed the idea of nervism and the principles on the functions of the nervous system.

Many of the major achievements in his career began when he became director and organizer of the Department of Physiology in the institute of Experimental Medicine in 1890. He served here for 45 years until his death. Under his direction the institute became one of the most important centers of physiological research.

Pavlov’s Contributions to Psychology

Pavlov received international fame and acclaim at the beginning of his research years when he discovered a way of studying behavior with a more objective technique. He discovered how humans and animals can be taught to react to a certain stimulus in a particular way.

Ivan PavlovHis theory is still being used in various fields such as anti-phobia treatment. Additionally, his findings are still being used to treat phobias that come as a result of certain environmental conditions, such as having a fear of crowds and heights. His discovery and extensive research on reflexes have influenced the fast-growing behaviorist movement. His research demonstrated the techniques of studying environmental reactions in a scientific, objective method. His work is often cited in the writings of John B. Watson, another prominent and renowned psychologist.

During treatment, the patient first learns the important technique of muscle relaxation. In the next few days, the patient imagines the situation that produces fear while trying to reduce the anxiety trough relaxation. At the end of the treatment, the anxiety producing situation can be brought to mind without causing any form of anxiety in the patient. This form of treatment is commonly known as systematic desensitization. His support and findings in many complex and incurable diseases earned him global acclamation.

Major Achievements

In 190,1 Pavlov was elected to be a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. He was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in 1904 for his extensive research regarding the digestive system. In 1907, he was elected Academician of the famous Russian Academy of Sciences.

Additionally, in 1912, he was honored with a doctorate at Cambridge University. On top of all this, he was awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor on his proposal presented to the Medical Academy of Paris in 1915.

Personal Life

Pavlov married Seraphima Vesilievna Karchevskaya, the daughter of a doctor and teacher by profession living in the Black Sea fleet in 1881. They had five children together. However, one of their sons, Vsevolod, died in his early age due to pancreatic cancer. Pavlov himself died on February 27, 1936, while he was in Leningrad.

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