Hans Selye

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Selye, Hans


Born Jan. 26, 1907, in Vienna. Canadian pathologist.

Selye was educated in the faculty of medicine of the German University in Prague and at the universities of Paris and Rome. In 1931 he worked at The Johns Hopkins University and later at McGill University in Canada. In 1945 he became the director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the University of Montreal.

While working with various toxic or insufficiently purified hormonal preparations, Selye discovered in 1936 that these preparations and other powerful irritants such as supercooling, infection, trauma, and hemorrhage produced similar changes in the adrenal glands, thymicolymphatic system, and gastrointestinal tract of rats. On the basis of these observations he advanced a theory of nonspecific reaction formulated in his concept of stress. According to Selye, stress is a state evoked by any strong stimuli and accompanied by a general mobilization of the body’s defense system. In developing this view, Selye introduced the concepts of a general adaptation syndrome, of adaptive hormones (hormones of the anterior lobe of the pituitary and of the adrenal cortex), and of diseases of adaptation (quantitative or qualitative deviations in the adaptation syndrome). He also introduced the concepts of adaptation energy as a measure of the resistance of organisms, and of local stress—selective affections caused by harmful agents to target organs, or organs with altered reactivity. Selye developed an experimental model of necrosis of the myocardium caused by disruptions of the balance of electrolytes and steroid hormones in the body; he advanced a method of preventing this condition by chemical means.

Selye’s works have dealt mainly with medical and biological problems, but they also touch on philosophy, sociology, and the psychology of scientific work. In a number of cases he has unjustifiably transferred some of his specialized concepts to a sociological plane.

Selye has been awarded honorary degrees by many universities. He is a member of international and national professional medical associations. The University of Brno (Czechoslovakia) has established a medal in Selye’s name which is awarded for contributions to general pathology and endocrinology.


“A Syndrome Produced by Diverse Nocuous Agents.” Nature, 1936, vol. 138, p. 32.
The Stress of Life. New York [1956].
Experimental Cardiovascular Diseases, vols. 1–2. Berlin-New York, 1970.
Hormones and Resistance, vols. 1–2. Berlin-New York, 1971.
In Russian translation:
Ocherki ob adaptatsionnom sindrome. Moscow, 1960.
Profilaktika nekrozov serdtsa khimicheskimi sredstvami. Moscow, 1961.
“Sorok let nauchno-issledovatel’skoi raboty v meditsine.” Patologicheskaia fiziologiia i eksperimental’naia terapiia, 1969, no. 3.
“Nekotorye aspekty ucheniia o stresse.” Priroda, 1970, no. 1.
Na urovne tselogo organizma. Moscow, 1972.


References in periodicals archive ?
Hans Selye once stated, "It's not the stress that kills us, but our reaction to it.
The term 'stress' as it is currently used was coined by Hans Selye in 1936, who defined it as 'the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.
Hans Selye described the 3-stage biological response to stress, which he called the general adaptation syndrome.
The Hungarian scientist, Hans Selye, who was influenced by Cannon's work, developed the concept of the General Adaptation Syndrome in 1936.
Selon les travaux du docteur Hans Selye (1907-1982) qui est l'inventeur de la theorie du stress mot qu'il a lui-meme introduit en medecine , travaux datant de 1975, il existe 3 phases dans la reaction au stress : la phase d'alarme, la phase de resistance et la phase d'epuisement.
You need to understand a concept advanced by Hans Selye in 1975--eustress, as opposed to distress--just "wiki" it.
Traditional stress theory originated with physician and pioneering researcher Hans Selye (Critelli & Ee, 1996; Pearlin, Lieberman, Menaghan, & Mullan, 1981).
1) Hans Selye proposed that the body's response to stress genetically evolved as a protective measure as humans learned to live in a threatening environment.
Quoting Hans Selye, the world's leading stress expert, D'souza (1989) says that "if people are race horses, they will find great stress in trying to live the life of turtles".
We must first look at the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) developed by Hans Selye.