Hans Selye

Hans Selye

Infobox Person
name=Hans Selye
other_names=Selye János (Hungarian)

birth_date=January 26, 1907
death_date=October 16, 1982

Hans Hugo Bruno Selye ( _hu. Selye János) CC was a Canadian endocrinologist of Austro-Hungarian origin and Hungarian [cite web |url=http://www.iht.com/articles/2005/10/12/news/sngut.php |title=H. pylori at last gets its due |accessdate=2008-06-12 |accessmonthday= |accessdaymonth= |accessyear= |author= |last= |first= |authorlink= |coauthors= |date=2005-10-12 |year= |month= |format= |work=International Herald Tribune |publisher=The New York Times Company |pages= |language= |doi= |archiveurl= |archivedate= |quote= ] ethnicity. Selye did much important factual work on the hypothetical non-specific response of the organism to stressors. While he did not recognize all of the many aspects of glucocorticoids, Selye was aware of this response on their role. Some commentators considered him the first to demonstrate the existence of stress.


Selye was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary on 26 January, 1907 [cite encyclopedia |last= |first= |author= |authorlink= |coauthors= |editor= |encyclopedia=Encyclopædia Britannica |title=Hans Selye |url=http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9001506/Hans-Selye |accessdate=2008-06-12 |accessyear= |accessmonth= |edition=2008 |date= |year= |month= |publisher=Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. |volume= |location= |id= |isbn= |doi= |pages= |quote= ] . He became a Doctor of Medicine and Chemistry in Prague in 1929, went to Johns Hopkins University on a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship in 1931 and then went to McGill University in Montreal where he started researching the issue of stress in 1936. In 1945 he joined the Universite de Montreal where he had 40 assistants and worked with 15,000 lab animals. Kantha (1992),in a survey of an elite group of scientists who have authored over 1,000 research publications, identified Selye as one who had published 1,700 research papers, 15 monographs and 7 popular books.

Work on stress

His initial inspiration for general adaptation syndrome (GAS, a theory of stress) came from an endocrinological experiment in which he injected mice with extracts of various organs. He at first believed he had discovered a new hormone, but was proved wrong when every irritating substance he injected produced the same symptoms (swelling of the adrenal cortex, atrophy of the thymus, gastric and duodenal ulcers). This, paired with his observation that people with different diseases exhibit similar symptoms, led to his description of the effects of "noxious agents" as he at first called it. He later coined the term "stress", which has been accepted into the lexicon of various other languages.

Selye has acknowledged the influence of Claude Bernard (who developed the idea of 'milieu intérieur') and Walter Cannon's 'homeostasis'. Selye conceptualized the physiology of stress as having two components: a set of responses which he called the "general adaptation syndrome", and the development of a pathological state from ongoing, unrelieved stress.

Selye discovered and documented that stress differs from other physical responses in that stress is stressful whether one receives good or bad news, whether the impulse is positive or negative. He called negative stress "distress" and positive stress "eustress". The system whereby the body copes with stress, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) system, was also first described by Selye. He also pointed to an "alarm state", a "resistance state", and an "exhaustion state", largely referring to glandular states. Later he developed the idea of two 'reservoirs' of stress resistance, or alternatively stress energy.

Selye wrote "The Stress of Life" (1956), "From dream to discovery; on being a scientist" (1964) and "Stress without Distress" (1974). He worked as a professor and director of the Institute of Experimental Medicine and Surgery at the Université de Montréal.

In 1968 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada.


* [http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/10/2/230a "A Syndrome Produced by Diverse Nocuous Agents"] - 1936 article by Hans Selye from [http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/ The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences]
* "The Stress of life". New York: McGraw-Hill, 1956.
* Selye, H. Stress and disease. "Science", Oct.7, 1955; 122: 625-631.
* "From dream to discovery; on being a scientist". New York: McGraw-Hill 1964
* "Hormones and resistance". Berlin; New York: Springer-Verlag, 1971.
* "Stress without distress". Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., c1974.

ee also

* Science and technology in Canada
* Alvin Toffler


*Sri Kantha, S: Productivity drive. "Nature", Apr.30, 1992; 356: 738.

*Sri Kantha, S: Clues to prolific productivity among prominent scientists. "Medical Hypotheses", 1992; 39: 159-163.

External links

* [http://www.stress.org/hans.htm Mementos and photos]
*' [http://www.nfb.ca/trouverunfilm/fichefilm.php?id=10827&v=h&lg=en&exp=10327 Stress] , a film about Hans Selye

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